Bob Marx, Hilo attorney, bookstore owner, and candidate for Hawai‘i’s Second Congressional District, calls the Honolulu Rail Project an impossible financial burden on the entire state.
Speaking to a group of students in Pahoa today, Marx addressed the issue of the Honolulu rail project. “This is Mufi Hannemann’s pet project that he abandoned to run for governor, quite unsuccessfully I might add,” Marx began. “Now it appears another Honolulu politician, Tulsi Gabbard, has decided to take Mufi’s reigns and put the state deeper into financial crisis by supporting a $450,000,000 ‘paper’ loan,” Marx stated.
The original vote for the rail which passed in 2008 was for $3.7 billion and the rail was supposed to run from Kapolei to the University of Hawai‘i. Now, just the first step of the project will cost $5.3 billion, skip Salt Lake and not even get to the University.
“Gabbard continues to show her loyalty to the voters of the FIRST congressional district, which she rightfully should, as she represents many of them on the Honolulu Council. Gabbard and Mufi have no business running for a seat that encompasses the neighbor islands and should rightfully be running for the district in which they live. Both are asking Kaneohe, Kailua, Haleiwa, Wainae, Waimanalo, Makaha and the rest of rural Oahu to float the bill for this incredibly unpopular and untimely elevated train project,” Marx said, bluntly.
The city said they wouldn’t need the funds unless “the moon fell into the ocean.” Now, just a few months later, they are asking for these funds. “If this wasn’t serious business it would be laughable,” Marx quipped. “We still have the second highest per capita debt in the nation: $8000 for every man, woman and child living on the islands, and yet Honolulu wants to put us further in debt? I am happy to see Council Members Ann Kobayashi and Tom Berg opposing this impossible fiscal burden on the rest of the state.” Marx said.
Ka‘eo Malaka, a college student in Hilo, asked him what can be done to relieve the burden of traffic and congestion in Honolulu. “We can start with an improved bus system. We must prioritize support for the workers and those looking for work that don’t have transportation, not simply provide alternatives for those who do. This shouldn’t be about convenience–it should be about jobs–and this rail project does nothing to help traffic congestion in Honolulu or help people who are struggling with high fuel prices.”
Studies in cities with rail programs consistently show the same thing: when people are already using public transportation like buses, ride-shares, or light-rail, they become accustomed to not using their car and will jump on board a train. When they are not accustomed to using public transportation, the transition period is much longer and the costs and projected revenues take much longer than forecasts anticipated. The vote for the funding of the program is set for June 4th.
The Second Congressional District encompasses most of rural Oahu and all the neighbor islands. Mr. Marx, a Hilo attorney and long-time community activist, is running against Oahu residents Mufi Hannemann, Tulsi Gabbard, and Esther Kia‘aina and for the open seat. Marx lives in the district and is the only Candidate in the race from a county other than Honolulu.