City to add more seats to Honolulu rail cars

City to add more seats to Honolulu rail cars
Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO
Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Changes are coming to the rail transit system.  The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Board today approved a plan to give passengers more places to sit.

Listening to the public and to studies showing the rail needed more seats the city is now adding 20 more seats per train.

Each train can carry a total of 318 people but originally only 64 could sit.  The city already added 12 and now the city is adding 20 more to bring the total number of seats per train to 96.

"I come from a system where if people have the option on a long trip and it's not overly crowded they'd like the option to sit. I agree with that," said Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO.  "We have a double challenge, can we add more seats but still maintain the total overall capacity seating plus standing and we were able to do that."

Grabauskas says the added seats won't drop the overall capacity and there will still be room for all the stuff people bring with them.

"We want to still have space for people who get on board at the airport will have space for luggage, people may want to get on with surfboards or bicycles and you want to have space for them so you want to have space available not just all seats," said Grabauskas.

A two car train is equivalent to five 40 foot busses.  But unlike a plane where seats and rows can be adjusted once the final seating arrangement is set it cannot be changed.

"Think about the fact that if you were putting something heavy on a wall you have to make sure you have the studs on the wall of your home, you have to make sure you have the reinforcing elements within the rail car itself to support the seats so this is why you want to make those decisions early," said Grabauskas.

Opponents agree its good it's early because the trains are not in final design, meaning depending on the election this Saturday it's not too late to stop the train.

"What I find interesting is that we're still talking about this which means there are no trains. They're still working essentially on Auto Cad to try and design the train so it's a good opportunity to stop the process," said Panos Prevedouros, PhD. University of Hawaii Civil Engineering Professor.

Grabauskas says the added seats will cost a onetime fee between $1.5 to $1.9 million for seats that will last 30 years.  Considering he already cut $2.8 million per year from the public relations budget that money is already accounted for.

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