When the City Council refused to pass a tax increase in 1991 to help fund the Fasi Administration's rail project, rail died and would stay dead for a decade. Ending Honolulu's current elevated train construction at Middle Street, as now some advocate, would be another colossal mistake.
Rail has always been envisioned as a relatively fast way to travel between Kapolei and downtown by giving riders a way to avoid highway congestion. Lopping off the final four miles between Middle Street and Ala Moana Center would effectively negate any speed advantage. Transferring from the train to TheBus would be inconvenient and a time-waster.
What was a $5 billion project in the early '90s is now forecast to top out at $12 billion-plus. Traffic congestion also has worsened -- and will continue grow along with Oahu's population and tourism expansion.
Stopping at Middle Street can't possibly be how today's funding shortfall is resolved. Finding new sources of funding is the only reasonable way to proceed -- whether it's by acquiring a tiny slice of the Biden Administration's infrastructure program or by tapping into the resources of Kakaako's landowners and property developers who stand to benefit from the system.
Everything the two Honolulu newspapers' editorials (below) said on October 1, 1992 applies to Oahu's current transportation problems. Let's work to ensure officials don't make another colossal transit mistake 30 years after the previous one.