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Frequently Asked Questions - All FAQs

FAQs - All FAQs
Isn't HART borrowing money to pay for the rail project?

The project is only using short-term bonds that will be paid back using federal funds and revenue collected from the GET surcharge. 

Why was the elevated rail design selected for Honolulu?

After multiple studies evaluating which transit system would be best to link Leeward Oahu to downtown Honolulu, an elevated rail system, separated from ground transportation, was found to be faster, safer, and more reliable for on-time performance than alternatives built at ground level-and less expensive than an underground system.

Why is an elevated rail transit design safer and faster?

With elevated rail transit, the trains do not cross paths with cars or pedestrians at street level. As a result, trains don't get in the way of pedestrians and motor vehicles, and the street-level traffic doesn't interfere with the trains. This avoids the possibility of collisions between trains and pedestrians or motor vehicles at street level. Transit riders can be sure they will get to their destination on time, regardless of traffic conditions.

Are there environmental advantages to rail transit?

Yes. The rail system will eliminate tens of thousands of car trips every day that would otherwise be taken on Oahu's roads. That means less auto pollution, a reduced need for new highways, and less dependence on imported oil. Rail transit will be electrically powered, and with Hawaii moving toward the goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2045, the trains will get greener as the percentage of renewable energy produced increases.

What is the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation?

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) is a semi-autonomous public transit authority responsible for the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of the city's fixed guideway system. HART is governed by a 10-member board composed of the state Department of Transportation director; the City Department of Transportation Services director; and six volunteers from the community: three appointed by the Mayor, three by the City Council. The director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting also serves as a non-voting member. The voting members appoint the tenth member to the board.

Why don't we just add more buses?

Expanding the existing system to meet future public transit needs with an all-bus rapid transit system would cost more in the long run than a combination bus-rail system. Operating costs for buses are much higher than for rail. The cost of operating bus systems is rising much faster than the cost of operating rail systems.

In addition, rail transit is more efficient than buses for high-volume passenger loads. Each four-car train can carry more than 800 passengers, the equivalent of more than ten buses. Moreover, an elevated rail system operates above our congested streets and highways and will deliver passengers to their destination on time every time, while buses get caught in traffic congestion, just like cars.

Why was steel-wheel on steel-rail technology selected?

"Steel-on-steel" technology is the most reliable, proven technology available as recommended by a panel of engineering and transit professionals. Oahu voters then specifically approved a steel-on-steel rail transit system in 2008. Honolulu's light-metro rail technology is different from the old heavy elevated rail lines in New York City, Chicago, and elsewhere. The new steel-on-steel system is quiet, smooth, efficient and uses one of the most advanced control technologies in the world.

Won't the steel wheels and rails have corrosion problems in Hawaii's environment?

No. Steel-wheels on steel-rail technology is being used successfully in many oceanside and island locales worldwide.

Have we received any Federal funding?

Yes. To date, HART has received $806,267,358, part of the $1.55 billion federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) that was approved in 2012 to pay for the construction of Honolulu's rail project. President Obama's fiscal year 2017 budget once again includes full funding for the Honolulu rail transit project.

See: Full Funding Grant Agreement

How much will the project cost?

The cost for the full 20-mile alignment is estimated to be greater than $6.7 billion.

HART Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation