Hawaii News Plan to add seats on rail trains gets tentative OK By Kevin Dayton Aug. 10, 2012 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Adding 10 seats to each train car for the Honolulu rail system would cost an extra $1.5 million to $1.9 million total but would make travel on the 20-mile rail route more comfortable, officials with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation were told Thursday. Daniel Grabauskas, executive director of HART, said contractor Ansaldo Honolulu JV can adjust the design of the 80 Honolulu rail cars to add seats and still have room for surfboards and luggage without reducing the passenger capacity of the system. "The public has told us that they would like more seats on the trains and we’ve listened," Grabauskas said in a written statement. "The increased seating will be designed to enhance the riding experience and to increase passenger comfort." He said the cost for the additional seats will be made up by savings incurred from recent cuts to HART’s budget. Last year a private consultant hired by the federal government to oversee Honolulu’s rail transit project raised concerns that the lack of seating in rail cars might make commuters less willing to use the system. That report by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. pointed out that the two-car trains Ansaldo bid to produce would hold 318 passengers, but the city planned to provide seats for only 76. That meant up to 242 riders would be required to stand. The HART board tentatively gave the nod Thursday to Grabauskas’ plan to add 20 more flip-up seats to each two-car train, and also instructed him to gather more information on a plan to add fare gates at each of the 21 rail stations. Grabauskas said he isn’t sure yet how much the fare gates will cost. The city originally planned to make the Honolulu rail line an "open" system without gates or turnstiles. Under that system, fare checkers would patrol the train cars and ask passengers for proof that they paid. Instead, Grabauskas wants the city to install fare gates with systems to collect payment before passengers can enter the rail platforms. He said the gates will allow the city to collect more in fares by reducing the amount of cheating, will cut down on vagrancy and will make the rail system feel more secure for passengers. The fare gates will also allow the city to collect more data on passenger movements, reduce staffing costs and give the system a somewhat friendlier feel, Grabauskas said. "Frankly, if there’s one place where I don’t want armed inspectors challenging people to demonstrate that they’ve paid their fares, it’s the land of aloha," Grabauskas said. "I mean, it just doesn’t feel very aloha to me." The rail system from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center is expected to cost $5.26 billion. Previous Story Former isle couple arrested over tot son's fatal injuries Next Story Family struggling with 'what ifs'