The death of a city, a death by cost overruns.
"With its official cost now having risen to $8.6 billion and a funding gap of $1.8 billion, both of which are certain to rise, Honolulu’s rail project will run out of money before construction reaches the downtown area, perhaps even before it reaches Middle Street.
The Federal Transit Administration says it will demand a return of all federal money if rail does not reach Ala Moana Center, which is possible only if the state Legislature or Honolulu City Council increase taxes dramatically: An average family of five would have to pay more than $1,000 per year just to complete rail, according to the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. Once completed, the annual cost of operating and maintaining a safe and reliable rail system would require comparable tax payments each year for the lifetime of the rail system.
State and city lawmakers are reluctant to raise taxes so dramatically, but abandoning the project at this late date would make those who had been supporting it look like idiots. They must be asking themselves, “How did we get ourselves into this mess?'"
Umm, by deciding to opt for the most expensive transit option available today. As Portlandia has found, light rail is brutally expensive, and carries no one to nowhere. Portlandia's transit rail only carries about 40% of the 2.3% of the total daily trips which all transit carries in the Portland metro area. Just think, for 3-5 billion dollars spent Portlandians are moving 1% of the metro areas daily trips. Wow. What a waste of money.
Now Honolulu has signed onto this same train to nowhere disaster, and as cost overruns mount, as they always do, the city, and the state are understanding they cannot afford light rail.
Honolulu, Hawaii and the $10.8 Billion Light Rail Boondoggle
There are no benefits to light rail to the average citizen, and even to the riders there are only benefits to the extent that the public can be shafted to pay for the boondoggle. No one, no matter how in the tank for light rail will pay the actual fare for riding these things.
In Portlandia, the MAX light rail fare only covers less then two miles of travel: Cost of MAX The actual cost per mile calculates out to about $1.61 per passenger, per mile. So, an five mile trip should cost $8.05. But it does not, because the local taxpayers pick up the majority of the fare. The cost per ride in Honolulu will depend upon the actual ridership but at the current construction costs, and likely operation/maintenance costs, the per rider, per mile fare will be much higher than Portlandia.
In Portlandia, and in Honolulu, the UberX fare is actually cheaper than the actual cost of the light rail ride. The UberX cost is $1.25 base fare, and $1.15 per mile (minimum $6.25). So, for a 5 mile trip, the fare is $7, or $1.05 less then the actual light rail fare, but it is more than the subsidized fare the MAX rider pays.
We would be much better off subsidizing the UberX fare for people who have low incomes than we are subsidizing the overall MAX light rail fare.
Uber Portland - Price Models & Historical Rates
Oh, and about that pollution, and fuel use argument:
While UberX costs less then light rail, driving whether in a new, or older car is far cheaper. Plus, while autos have been reducing tailpipe, and other pollutants since the early 1970s, transit modes have provided few reductions in pollution on a per passenger mile basis. In a most odd, turn light rail, although electric did not result in a massive reduction in Portland transit motor vehicle fuel use, but instead resulted in an increase on a per passenger mile basis.
Transit is like riding around in worse than 1970 level polluting cars, which never improve their fuel economy.
Honolulu has been waylaid by the politicians/bureaucrats favorite boondoggle, the light rail canard. Light rail offers the politicians huger avenues of graft, and corruption. It offers the bureaucrats huge salary increases, and lucrative future employment in the industry.
Now the politicians are trapped between the feds demanding full compliance with the plan, or repayment of fed monies, and all but insurmountable, but common, and expected, cost overruns. The twist, hoisted on their own petard. Let 'em twist.