Monday, March 16, 2020

HART: Despite COVID-19, “Right Now We Are on Our Schedule” To Begin Rail Operations Late this Year

                                                                     Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo

It’s way too soon to know for sure, but the head of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) is sticking to his prediction that Honolulu’s elevated rail project will launch service late this year – coronavirus notwithstanding.

Andrew Robbins, HART’s chief executive officer, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser“We talked to our contractors. … They’ve all been advising their employees about hand-washing, safe practices, if you don’t feel well, who to call; but other than that, it’s been business as usual. They’ve been out there working.”

Hitachi Rail, the project’s contractor, has warned that its supply chain may be affected by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and has thereby taken the position that it should not suffer “force majeure” penalties if it can’t stick to its schedule. As the Star-Advertiser story notes, HART doesn’t agree.

                                                         Platform safety doors (HART photograph)

In other “news” (that’s nearly 7 years old), Honolulu’s elevated rail system will be far safer than planned when we broke off writing Yes2Rail in 2012.

HART approved the addition of Platform Safety Screens back in 2013 that will prevent passengers from accidentally falling, being pushed, or deliberately jumping onto the tracks.

We had seen these safety doors in action in Paris when we visited more than a decade ago; the photo (below-right) was taken from inside a train car. Two sets of doors are visible in the photo -- doors on the train itself (the shiny chrome set) and doors on the platform (showing as white). The doors open simultaneously in sync with one another, just like the elevators in a building.

These doors were on the high-traffic Line #1, which runs east-west through the heart of Paris. The doors were added long long after the Paris Metro began operating.

The change to add doors on the Honolulu system is likely an under-appreciated feature by future riders. If you’re like us, you edge away from the tracks as a train arrives in a subway or metro station. The safety doors may even convince parents and grandparents that young school-age children in their families can ride Honolulu rail safely.

For now, stay safe by maintaining your social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis!

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