The cost of the Oahu rail system has been a hot topic of discussion in recent years, with a local nonprofit organization recently determining that it is the most expensive rail system in the country per passenger. In an interview with Zoom, Mufi Hannemann, the mayor of Honolulu, stated that debates about railroads often turn into debates about Pacific Floor Covering Honolulu versus other modes of transportation. During his speech on the state of rail transport last October, he declared that the city's goal in relation to the “ready to use a shovel” elevated train project was to arrive on time, on budget and on schedule. Two alternatives were proposed for the project: stopping at Middle Street and then switching to rapid bus transportation or to a lighter rail system to Ala Moana. Since then, much more has been developed than the Kroc Center around the western end of the railway line, including the University of Hawaii on West Oahu and some 2,500 homes in Ho'opili.
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Three options were considered for this segment: building to Middle Street and then having a “guide” only to Ala Moana Central Station (saving the construction of seven stations for later), continuing with the bus service or continuing with a railroad system at street level. Relocating electricity, water, sewer and other services to avoid railroad construction has been a colossal problem for the railway authority. According to Jonathon Morton, Honolulu's director of transportation services, one of the reasons why the railroad was created is that Honolulu's current public transportation system has been hampered by increased traffic congestion on highways. Railroad advocates argue that the project will cause traffic congestion to increase more slowly than without it, will support the development of housing and commercial properties near train stations, and provide an alternative and coherent mode of transportation that will not be affected by accidents or traffic jams on the roads. This time frame shows the view aboard the Skyline car between Aloha Stadium and East Kapolei from the city's first nine train stations, which are scheduled to open on June 30. It's a good bet that Honolulu would already have a fully functioning rail system if Councilwoman René Mansho hadn't surprised everyone by switching her support for the railroad to a single decisive negative vote in September 1992. Get ready to hit the tracks and take a look at the Oahu communities served and transformed by the city's initial railroad segment, which will begin Friday. Production of the current railroad line began to gain traction in late 2004, when Honolulu voters who elected their next mayor elected Mufi Hannemann, whose campaign promises included giving high priority to creating a rail system that would serve the Ewa Plain. The cost of building a rail system is always high but it can be worth it if it helps reduce traffic congestion and provides an alternative mode of transportation.
The Oahu rail system is no exception - it has been designed with these goals in mind and is expected to bring many benefits to its users. It is important for citizens to stay informed about this project so they can make informed decisions about its future.