The Benefits of an Oahu Rail System

Railroads are a highly efficient form of transportation, taking up much less space than personal cars and allowing people to move around the island with ease. According to the United States Railroad Association, railroad systems make large investments and create well-paying industrial jobs. The City and County of Honolulu reported that the construction and maintenance of the railroad will employ about 10,000 workers each year. Two alternatives were to stop the train on Middle Street and then switch to a bus rapid transit system or to a lighter rail system to Ala Moana. The Honolulu Rail Transit Project (HRTP) is set to build a 20-mile passenger rail system that will connect Kapolei Oriental, in western Oahu, with the Ala Moana Center, in the dense urban core of Honolulu.

This system will feature 21 state-of-the-art stations and a combination of elevated and level guidance. Morton, director of the city's transportation services, explains that one of the reasons for the railroad is that Honolulu's current public transportation system has been hampered by increased traffic congestion on highways. He adds that discussions about railroads often turn into debates about railroads versus other modes of transportation. Railroad advocates argue that the project will cause traffic congestion to grow more slowly than without it, will support the development of housing and commercial properties near train stations, and provide an alternative and constant mode of transportation that will not be affected by accidents or traffic jams on the roads. The city's goal for the “ready-to-use” 20-mile elevated train project was to arrive on time, on budget and on schedule, according to Mayor Hannemann's speech on the state of rail traffic last October.

In addition, the space of elevated rail systems is only 36 square feet per 100 feet of elevated track, greatly reducing ground disturbances both during and after construction. The goal was to build a light rail project that would make it easier for commuters to access from the western suburbs of Oahu and surrounding rural areas to downtown Honolulu. The advantages of this system are numerous: it is more efficient than personal cars, creates well-paying jobs, reduces traffic congestion, supports development near train stations, provides an alternative mode of transportation unaffected by accidents or traffic jams, and reduces ground disturbances.

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