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First train cars arrive in Honolulu for rail transit project

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    Mayor Kirk Caldwell and rail officials hold a news conference after the first rail transit cars arrived at Honolulu harbor.

The first two driverless cars for Honolulu’s $6.57 billion rail transit project arrived on Oahu today.

They’re the first of eighty cars slated to transport passengers on the island’s elevated rail system. There will be 20 trains, each with four cars. The trains can carry up to 800 passengers, or the equivalent of 20 local buses.

“These are the first driverless trains in the United States of America. They’re not arriving in New York, or Boston or San Francisco. They’re arriving here in Honolulu,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a press conference today held in front of the trains after they were unloaded on Pier 1 at Honolulu Harbor.

Honolulu’s rail cars will also be the first in the nation with an “open gangway” design that will allow passengers to move freely between all four cars in the train, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director Dan Grabauskas said.

The rail cars were assembled at a Hitachi factory in Pittsburg, Calif. Each car costs $2.2 million.

Work is progressing on the 20-mile rail line from Kapolei to Ala Moana, but the project has also faced significant cost increases and budget delays.

Rail officials estimate the full system will open in 2022.

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      • William Matson (1849–1917) was the founder of the Matson Navigation Company. He was born in Lysekil in Västra Götaland County, Sweden, and orphaned during childhood. He arrived in San Francisco after a trip around Cape Horn in 1867.

        • The company’s link to Hawaii reaches back to WW II when a Pasha operation in San Francisco offered storage and truckaway services to our troops as they were deployed to Hawaii. In early 1999, the company recognized the need to provide new and competitive service for the movement of rolling stock between the Pacific Coast and Hawaii, sparking the creation of Pasha Hawaii and the construction of its first vessel, the M/V Jean Anne.

        • The long comments are from Wikipedia. I neglected to give them credit. As you can tell from my regular comments, I was not an English Major, nor a Journalism Major, just a “Pidgin English Major”, which means I use a lot of “be”. I know the difference between “there and their” and “two, to and too”. I am very careful as far as proofreading my own writing, so (knock on wood), u will never see a “Pubic” from me.

  • Great, so they will sit idle for six years! Great planning! Is this one of those milestones to get an increment of Federal taxpayer funds released? More smoke and mirrors, but the elements will cause real damage.

    • It’s just like Christmas in March. When they remove the white covering, who will step into the first cab? Obama, Ige, Caldwell, Grabauskas, Hannemann, Kamehameha, Lunalilo, Kalakaua or Jesus? My guess — Ariyoshi. Wait, that’s not one of those that’s listed. It’s okay, George is the eldest of the dignitaries still living on Oahu, so remember Seniors first.

      • It was described that there will be minimal seats, in other words, most who ride TheTrain must be physically fit, because they will be standing. How could students who ride the train from Kapolei to Ala Moana study on TheTrain? They can’t study, the roller coaster ride will prevent them from concentrating. As far as padding, only Grabauskas knows.

        • Buses yes have at least a thin padding, however some kids are planning their graffiti already. There probably will not be X-Ray machines checking for knives and such, because that would put a crimp in the system, that is to say, Speed.

    • They’ll be used on the 1st phase of construction from Kapolei to Aloha Sadium in couple years – after extensive testing and trials. Time to get my senior bus pass this year.

        • As long as someone else paying for it, right? Tax the hard working people of Oahu so you can have your cheap ride.

        • From Pacific Business News:

          The New York Times this week took a critical eye to Honolulu’s mutli-billion dollar rail project. Don Horner, chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, told PBN what he felt was missing from the article.

          The article, published on March 20, was entitled: “Hawaii struggles to keep rail project from becoming a boondoggle.” It presented concerns surrounding the 20-mile elevated train line, outlining criticisms surrounding the design, the delays and the escalating cost.

        • “Hawaii struggles to keep rail project from becoming a boondoggle.” Uhhh, it already is a typical Nei boondoggle. Now up to complete debacle status.

          100% over budget, years behind schedule, no plan in place to reliable power to rail, complete debacle on undergrounding lines inside the city, on and on. Almost every day in the news is a new revelation from HART on “Unknown Areas” meaning the cost is going up again.

          Monthly O&M is already a sky high $10 million per month, $323k per day, no end in sight.

          “Becoming a boondoggle?” It already was from day one. Now well qualified as “World Class Debacle.”

      • Thank our Mayor who has re ieved over a Million dollars into hs coffers from RAIL INTERSTS AND PRP AS WELL AS CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS LISTED BELOW:
        I also revised the material to reflect recent discoveries. We found that the nefarious Pacific Resource Partnership supported Carol Fukunaga with $86,000 in advertising for her 2012 election. AND under a different name, they gave Brandon Elefante $105,000 in advertising support. With this money, the percentage of Elefante’s support from the Ho’opili and Rail construction community jumped to 91%. Pretty amazing! He sure wasn’t going to vote against them! interesting, though, and it really is an education on these issues.

        Here’s The Friends of Makakilo breakdown on City Council campaign contributions:
        Council Member Total Contributions Amount from Hoopili/Rail Interests Percent
        Kymberly Pine $160,879 $116,801 72%
        Ernie Martin $451,240 $268,017 59%
        Ikaika Anderson $139,518 $100,668 72%
        Trevor Ozawa $183,320 $104,550 57%
        Ann Kobayashi $57,136 $24,450 43%
        Carol Fukunaga $258,321 $104,565 40%
        Joey Manahan $182,215 $83,512 46%
        Brandon Elefante $37,322 $24,292 65%
        Ron Menor $48,405 $34,650 72%

  • Local graffiti taggers have already set their sights on these two new targets.

    Even though it will be years before these cars see their first passenger, will the warranty still be in effect? Or does it start on the day of delivery, expiring before the cars are even used?

    Have to wonder why HART took delivery so early, cars have no use. Oh wait, HART wants to have a party inside them, new play toys. What was I thinking?

    • All of Hawaii is waiting for the first big disaster, like a train ramming into another train. Disaster documentaries on NatGeo and History have told us time and again that machines can move much faster than a human being, however “what if” a short circuit occurs and the people in the control station can’t stop one train from ramming into another and 1,400 people get seriously hurt and swamp our medical centers. What a tangled web we weave?! Then again, Queen Hannemann got her wish, however we will make worldwide news when 1,400 people perish all at once, the single most disastrous accident that the NTSB would need to investigate in the Nei !! That’s the worst nightmare, however we all know Grabauskas will do a 100% PERFECT job for us, right, not withstanding the Boston Big Dig. 😉 😉 😉 Three for The Three Stooges.

      • No running though, unless one is running away from the law, or one is running for office. I’d like to see Caldwell and Grabauskas be the first passengers.

        • Naahhh. Not those two losers. Well, we could put Caldwell, Ige, Grabby Boy on rail at the start. Then when it stops at the airport, they all get off, take their bags, get on a flight to the mainland.

          Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    • The pressure will be on Grabauskas and ukuleleblue as the time will soon come when they may require more funds, especially when they are acquiring land in the greater downtown area. Horner has also discussed extending the system all the way to the University.

    • What difference does it make? In 20 years, no one will care or remember. They’ll only know they can get from point A to Point B while the rest of Honolulu is gridlocked.

      • What difference does it make? If the project can be build efficiently, then why has not the cost been capped at $5.16 billion? If one was promised a cost and the cost went up, who cares? The entirety of Oahu cares, 80% of whom who will not use the project or will not need to. The present conditions on the freeways are because of too many people driving cars all at once. The system adopted in Utah needs to be given a try on Oahu. Especially for government employees, who can start work either at 6:00AM or 9:00AM, which means they can leave for work from home at 5:00AM or 8:00AM. As it stands now, most of the traffic occurs between 5:30AM and 8:00AM. Why wouldn’t or why couldn’t people leave cars at home, and travel to work via TheBus now? Because they are lazy and a lot of them work for the government.

        • I’ve tried the salt lake city rail. IT’s ground level. Bad, bad, bad for Honolulu.

        • People regularly get killed by that SLC rail, whether by getting run over or trying to beat the train. No exaggeration. Be glad our rail is elevated.

  • The state of the art rail transit cars are here to make Honolulu a world class city. We have an exciting future for our children and grandchildren.

    • The state of the art rail transit cars are here to make Honolulu a world class city. We have an exciting future for our children and grandchildren.

        • You know why highways are so congested? Because they are wildly popular and a victim of its own success. It is the king of infrastructure. The train is a TOY.

        • You do understand that Hawaii public transit was perfectly fine without rail right? My Mililani to downtown AM commute today was 35 minutes via Express bus. My PM express commute was 45 minutes. One hour and 20 minutes total. The AM rail commute by itself will take longer. You have no clue of the realistic impact rail will have. You even mention getting a bus pass, which you think will be separate from the smart card. There will be no bus passes in the future. Handivan, rail and bus services will use the smartcard at the same price for everyone…even if you only use the bus. Current fares will probably double or triple.

        • Biggest
          Blight will be the ugly rail ruining what little beauty left if Honolulu. Concrete elevate rail. A major blight on our streets

    • Listen to aomohoa, as she lives in Ewa Beach, and she may be a person that would benefit a lot from TheTrain, however she is concerned about the cost. The benefit is there however what about the cost, which has gone from $3.1 billion to $5.16 billion to $6.57 billion. TheTrain is a one of a kind project and even HART’s Chief Architect resigned recently. If the cost is not capped at $6.57 billion, what shall we do with you, Daniel Grabauskas? More people working on this project and you guys at HART cannot say no, when requests for Change Orders keep pouring in.

      • Great idea, however Caldwell got help from PRP during the mayoral election that included Cayetano, so Caldwell can’t fire Grabauskas. Only way to have Grabauskas fired is if a terrible disaster occurs, such as a failure of The Balanced Cantilever construction that is soon to commence over The H-1 and Kamehameha Highway, near the 24/7 Longs in Pearl City. That is the most ambitious construction in this state ever and I would not like to be stamping those drawings. I’d like to see that megastructure completed to fruition. With the addition of the two lanes on the H-1 West in that area, The Balanced Cantilever needs to span that much more and there will be no intermediate support in the median of the H-1, as was possible at the H-1 / H-2 interchange. If that structure survives, I commend you, Daniel Grabauskas. TheTrain Guideway has to be at a “Third Level”, as it goes over both the H-1 and Kam Hwy. Oh My Gosh. 🙁


  • Question people need to know is “Why is the trains come first?” We dont have anything built but still we bring the trains???? Again Hawaii failed at its core, We have bunch of idiotic people running the show… Mayor Kirk again showing how moronic he is…. Banana Republic indeed….

    • TheCart before TheHorse. With Hawaii’s exposure to The Pacific Ocean on all sides of all islands, what will happen when we find out that rust has started to invade TheFirstCab? Well we gave California a lot of jobs, to make TheTrains for us, so I hope they will visit us as Tourists. If we look at the total projected cost of $6.57 billion, possibly only 20% of the cost went into the hands of local employees. Is that helpful? If you at HART can give a more detailed analysis of how much of the $6.57 billion will be kept in the islands, please detail it and send it to Marcel Honoré, c/o The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, The Waterfront Plaza, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Thank You …. Very Much.

        • It’s because Ariyoshi didn’t listen to Fasi in 1972, when Fasi suggested to build rail back then. What about a staggered work shift for government employees?

        • wiliki the shameless liar. Rail will help provide housing for 100,000 people? Show your evidence.

    • With rail they have no future dufus. Endless additional taxes for maintenance and shortfall of rail income to pay for the system. Name me one system in this USA that has a city rail that cost this much to build 20 miles and is not requiring additional taxes Inorder to run the system and pay all expenses Sherlock wili

  • From the Pacific Business News:

    The New York Times this week took a critical eye to Honolulu’s mutli-billion dollar rail project. Don Horner, chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, told PBN what he felt was missing from the article.

    The article, published on March 20, was entitled: “Hawaii struggles to keep rail project from becoming a boondoggle.” It presented concerns surrounding the 20-mile elevated train line, outlining criticisms surrounding the design, the delays and the escalating cost.

    • The article said: “The main concern now is whether the city has raised enough money to finish the project.”

      It noted that the initial cost of $4.6 billion has ballooned to $6.7 billion, but Horner said some elements of the HART’s financial plans were not presented.

      “A critical characteristic of the city and county’s rail construction plan is the uniquely conservative capital funding sourcing,” Horner told PBN in an email. “The FFGA [Full Funding Grant Agreement] plan calls for a combination of federal funding and state G.E.T. revenues which is projected to provide for a debt-free rail system.”

      The rail’s operational cost were also not addressed in the article. Horner said for the first full year of service in 2024 these are projected to be under 25 percent of the city’s total transportation operations and maintenance budget.

      “The City and HART are working together to further reduce rail operating costs by utilizing new synergies with TheBus and other City services including the introduction of a systemwide Smartcard,” Horner said. “So, far 40 positions have been eliminated from the planned staffing levels”.

      • The chair added the FFGA calls for a 65 percent subsidy, or $71 million for the first full year of rail operations and maintenance.

        HART and the city’s Department of Transportation Services have awarded a $31 million contract to design, build, operate and maintain a new smart card pass system to INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc. earlier this week.

        Horner also added HART’s current revenue plan is outdated as it was based on assumptions of ridership and fare-box pricing established in 2010-2011.

        “The City and HART are working together to revalidate these numbers in order to refresh and update the projected overall operating costs,” he said.

        • These are now in my own words, not PBN. In other words, the picture is as rosy as it can be. Is all of what Don Horner is saying absolutely true, or just a bookmark to keep people from saying “I told u so, the cost is still escalating and that there is no end in sight, as far as the upper limit of costs”. When any person within the construction system sees that another person got their Change Order approved, others are going to keep on submitting requests for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

  • The city and HART, made a POOR choice. They should have picked cars like the ones in Japan. The seats are only along the windows and plenty of standing room in the middle. Instead, the rail cars are like the Bus and will be inefficient like HART and the City and the entire RAIL project.

    • Yes, so is HART going to issue a Change Order to its own design, based on your comment? Answer is absolutely not: politics will prevent HART and ukuleleblue from listening to your comment. If one tries to board TheBus during peak periods, people will stand toward the front of TheBus and TheBusDriver has to implore people to move to the back. This same phenomenon will occur on TheTrain and nothing will be gained by a speeding Train. Keolu, HART needs to listen to u.

  • What a Boindoggle of taxpayer monies !
    Most frivolous spending by government yet ! They can’t even spend the federal highways funds timely to maintain the freeways and the government wants to raise our already highest fuel taxes in the USA even higher. What a Crock of do do

    • Thumbs up. HART needed to try to agree with the Federal Government to try to come across Pearl Harbor, using Ford Island as an intermediate stopping point. TheTrain is just another running of the Express “C”, however in fact slower, because it makes a lot of stops in between. TheTrain needed to be a true express from The Ewa Plain into downtown Honolulu. It’s not that at all. It’s average speed will be 30 MPH, not the advertised 70 MPH. The person most responsible for this boondoggle is still around: Mufi Hannemann.

  • So the driverless rail cars will be placed in storage until at least 2022 for a commuter rail system that may never, ever be operational. Let’s hope HART officials and Mayor Caldwell are akamai enough to placed them and others to follow in a very secure, covered warehouse until at least 2022 (six years from now. These guys and gals are so idiotic, stupid and corrupt beyond a reasonable doubt!

  • They could have saved a pile of money if they had shipped them from Oakland rather than trucking them from Northern CA to Southern CA and ship them from there.

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