Thursday, September 30, 2010

Voters To Decide on Transit Authority Creation

Voters will be asked a question on the November ballot that will determine the future governance of the Honolulu rail project. Last December, the City Council voted 8-0 to place a proposed City Charter amendment on the ballot. It reads:

“Shall the revised City Charter be amended to create a semi-autonomous public transit authority responsible for the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of the City’s fixed guideway mass transit system?”

Currently, the City’s Department of Transportation Services (DTS) oversees all aspects of the rail project, as well as roads, traffic signals, parking facilities, TheBus and other responsibilities. The transit authority’s single focus would be the rail system; it would deal only with ensuring the system’s success by operating it efficiently and building ridership. Its mission would include promoting, creating and assisting transit-oriented development projects that promote development around the rail stations and along the route.

The authority’s policy-making board would include three appointees selected by the mayor; three selected by the City Council; two ex-officio voting members (the state director of transportation and the city’s director of transportation services; one ex-officio non-voting member (the director of the department of planning and permitting); and a tenth member selected by majority vote of the six appointed and two-ex-officio voting members.

Any use of city funds by the authority would require the approval of the City Council, and property acquisitions to support the system would have to be submitted to the city Council for review and approval.

Public hearings would be required before setting rates and adopting a budget. The authority would have to comply with federal Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration requirements and deadlines, and it would be subject to audits by the city administration and the City Council.

We’ll continue to examine the ballot question in the weeks leading up to the General Election.

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