September 1991 Home   Newsletters

October 1991

November 1991

Press Release / Press Conference -- September 19, 1991
Letter to the Editor - Star Bulletin - 10/16/91 (Arlene Ellis)
Traffic Alternatives Video Showing
Letter from the Editor - Star Bulletin - 9/18/91 (John E. Simonds)
Testimony at City Council Public Hearing on Bill 112
Leasehold Conversion Study
Urgent! Help Needed for Vote Count
Pro-Choice Rally
Charter Review Consensus

Testimony at City Council Public Hearing on Bill 112 Concerning a Development Agreement Relating to the Honolulu Rapid Transit Project

We think the proposed Development Agreement inadvisable in that it involves financial obligations on the City's part which has no guarantee of being able to meet.

We have three major concerns which we feel should be resolved before the Council goes any further with this dubious project.

  1. We have always been told that there would be a uniform bus rail fare and that it would remain at the present level. In recent weeks, however, Mr. Magaldi has mentioned a $1.00 fare and Frank Doyle, $1.50. In other cities rail system fares are as high as $2.50 or more. How would such fares affect ridership? Will the current bus rider, much less the automobile driver, be willing or able to pay them? Might not the people who currently use the bus decide to drive, instead? Bus riders living in the city's core areas would have to pay exorbitant fares per mile for the short trips they make -- obviously unfair as compared with the long trips outlying residents would get for the same fare.

  2. We are also being told that $1.865 billion dollars (at year-of-expenditure levels) will be raised by the ½% excise tax surcharge, but that practically all of this will be returned to Oahu tax-payers as State income tax credits. Our analysis of the total tax impact of the surcharge, however -- copies of which were submitted to you last week -- shows that the total burden, direct and indirect, of the surcharge would be $408 per average household per year, rather than the $4 to $15 claimed by the City.

  3. The total ten-year construction cost of the rail system -- again in year-of-expenditure dollars -- is now estimated by the City at $2.247 billion. We fear that at both City and State levels an amount of this magnitude will inevitably divert resources from other public needs.

The City claims that since most of this will come from the State tax credit, it will cost the City nothing. We refer you to the Legislature's Joint Conference Committee's 1990 Report No. 163, which states: "The County government establishing the surcharge will receive the revenue, while the State will pay out the credit out of State revenues." Whether these come out of the General Fund, or are borrowed, or reduce resources which would otherwise be available for schools, water, sewerage, housing, health or other needs, one way or another the money comes out of the taxpayer's pockets.

According to our summary of Schedule B, we will spending an average of $225 million a year of City and/or State and/or Federal money for rail construction.. In addition will be higher final costs for items such as land acquisition, station finishing, etc.; $200 million or more for capital improvements needed to create a viable feeder bus system without which rail could not function; operating, maintenance, and replacement costs for both bus and rail; and, very likely, additional costs to serve Waikiki and downtown, whose elimination from so-called integrated transportation system is ridiculous on the face of it.

Fiscal prudence requires a "no" vote on Bill 112. We urge you not to be pressured into signing a Development Agreement just to meet a November 15 deadline which can be extended by the Legislature if desired. The City should not and cannot. make commitments of this magnitude until a lot of questions and uncertainties now existing. are laid to rest.

And, Bill 112 still leaves one very important question unanswered: What are we going to about traffic, how much will that cost, and will we have any money left to do it?

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