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HART board selects new executive director

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    The Honolulu Authority of Rapid Transportation named Andrew Robbins the new executive director and CEO.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has selected Andrew Robbins as the next, permanent executive director to lead the island’s financially challenged rail transit project.

The board announced the selection after meeting nearly an hour in closed session today. The vote was 6-1, with board member John Henry Felix voting against. Board members Damien Kim and Hoyt Zia did not attend.

Robbins has logged about 37 years with Canadian-based Bombardier Transportation, and he’s spent much of that time handling business development, systems projects and sales, according to his resume on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Currently he’s based in San Francisco, serving as Bombardier’s senior director and head of automated systems business development for the Americas, according to that resume.

Robbins will serve as former CEO Dan Grabauskas’ permanent replacement. He will also eventually take over for interim Executive Director Krishniah Murthy, who has a yearlong $400,000 deal to oversee HART through December.

Robbins will join HART as train and system testing is expected to accelerate under the agency’s “core systems” contractor, Hitachi-owned Ansaldo Honolulu JV. In 2011, Ansaldo and Bombardier were among the three rival finalists vying for that public contract — the largest in the state’s history. The winner would design and build the train cars, and it would operate the transit line for up to 10 years.

Ansaldo’s bid came in at $1.4 billion; Bombardier’s was $234 million less, but Ansaldo received the contract after the city disqualified Bombardier’s bid. Soon after, Robbins helped lead a protracted protest and legal challenge against the city to overturn the Ansaldo award.

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