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Resolution calls for removal of U.S. bus funds from rail money plan

  • Craig T. Kojima / ckojima@staradvertiser.com
    Yellow construction equipment stood out against a cloudy sky Friday as an overpass for the city’s rail line took shape along the H-1 freeway in the Wai­pahu area.
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Amid growing concerns over the budget shortfall that rail now faces, the Honolulu City Council this week introduced a resolution directing the agency overseeing the project to remove all of the so-called federal "bus funds" from rail’s financial plan.

Those $210 million in federal 5307 funds, which the city uses to maintain TheBus, were inserted in rail’s 2012 financial plan — and the move has concerned top-ranking federal transit officials, plus some city elected leaders and many bus riders and bus advocates ever since.

Local transit officials overseeing rail repeatedly assured that those bus funds would only be used as a last resort, and none of the dollars have been spent on the rail project.  However, now that the project faces as much as a $700 million construction deficit, those dollars are suddenly in play.

Resolution 15-18, introduced Tuesday by Council Chairman Ernie Martin, directs the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to delete the 5307 dollars from rail’s financial plan and the city’s formal agreement with federal transit officials.  It looks to ensure the money is spent only on TheBus and Handi-Van systems

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