$5.26 billion rail budget, so why no wifi? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

$5.26 billion rail budget, so why no wifi?

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Board is asking for more than $1.3 billion to spend in 2014 and yet with all that money there is one thing the city didn't think about, wifi for riders.

That was one of the discoveries made at today's Hart board meeting.  Some other things to come out of the meeting were the rail's biggest capital budget to date and trying to make up some of the millions lost in delay costs.

The rail's capital budget for fiscal year 2014 is more than $1.34 billion.  That's almost a quarter of the entire project requested in this one year. Among the items it calls for is $425 million for equipment, $248 million for construction and $57 million for construction management. There's another $86 million to buy land on the rail route, an additional $20 million on consultants and $225 million for contingencies allowance.

That $225 million in contingencies allowance will be taken from the full $643 million contingency fund for the project. It's important considering construction is stopped and delays are adding up.

"Because of the lawsuit we are going to be delayed somewhere between 9 to 12 months. It's about $7.1 million generally but there will be some specific impact so we're going to try and deal with that both by cost reductions as well as potentially looking at our contingency," said Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO.

To make up for that $7.1 million a month in delay losses Grabauskas plans to repackage future contracts.

"It's as simple as this if we have one contract per station, you're going to have to have a manager for each contract, you're going to have to have oversight of each contract. If you can package those five into one station group then we will cut down on a lot of overhead we don't really feel is necessary," said Grabauskas.

They also plan to spend $60 million on the trains communication system which included wifi for train system but not for passengers.  It didn't make sense to the board so Grabauskas will add free wifi throughout the route for riders.

"We're already going to be having the infrastructure so I don't think it will be incrementally very much more at all. It would be a smart thing for us to do," said Grabauskas.

It's another example of why wasn't that thought of before, but it is being changed now.

The budget will come back to the HART board to review in two weeks. Then it will go to the Mayor's office and City Council for review and approval.

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