After approximately 20 years of waiting, Honolulu Rail Transit, the Hawai county’s first light rail transit system, has partially begun operations.
An 11-mile section of the system, which is dubbed the “Skyline” by city officials and the “Rail” by Hawaii residents, opened to the public at the end of Jun 2023. This section serves west Oahu, from Kapolei, a major suburb outside of Honolulu, to Hālawa, home of the island’s Aloha Stadium.
It passes through a total of nine stations in a couple of key locations on the west side. These include the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus, along with suburban towns such as Waipahu and Pearl City.
The development of the Honolulu Rail Transit
The light rail system has been under development for over two decades. Although the idea to have some sort of rail system had been considered since the 1960s, it wasn’t until around 2006 that it was decided that the rail would be a Skyline.
Throughout its planning and construction process, the mass transit system has had a contentious political and financial past. The project has also spanned multiple Hawaii governors and Honolulu mayors. The project was approved back in 2007 under Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
In 2012 city officials had predicted that the entire 20-mile Honolulu Rail Transit System would be completed by 2020. The cost of the project till then would be around half the current cost of around $10 billion.
The project is funded primarily by local taxpayers with a couple of billion in assistance from federal grants and city subsidies.
Honolulu’s first light rail transit system, a “historic” and “iconic” development
Rick Blangiardi, who is the fourth mayor to inherit the Honolulu Rail Transit System Project described the Skyline as “historic” and “iconic” in his speech during the opening of the facility.
“Today’s opening of the Skyline,” the mayor said, “begins a truly transformative era of Hawaii. It is the culmination of years of hard work to fulfill what was a very bold vision.”