Rail Operating Costs Worry Honolulu Council Members

Rail Transit Division

WASHINGTON — Four Honolulu City Council members visiting Washington for a rail conference this week say they remain uneasy about the operations and maintenance costs that the rail line will impose on taxpayers.

But a key rail planner said that those who want Honolulu's rail system to be built have to go "all in," and accept that rail service will require additional ongoing public funding. Expressing concerns were Council Chair Ernie Martin, Vice Chair Ikaika Anderson, Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi and Legal Affairs Chair Romy Cachola.

"Here I am, still worried about construction (costs) but operations and maintenance is forever," Kobayashi said in an interview with Civil Beat in Washington. "Putting it in, that's the easy part. It's the operation and maintenance you worry about because that's forever. It increases over time."

A Civil Beat analysis found that an average of at least $50 million per year will be needed to help run and maintain the rail line — on top of costs covered by revenue from fares —  in the first decade that it's fully operational.

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