Three people to watch over Honolulu's driverless train - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Three people to watch over Honolulu's driverless train

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first wall has gone up at Honolulu's train operating and servicing center. When it's all finished about 300 people will work on the train including those who will be at the controls of the driverless train.

That's correct, driverless.  Each four car train can carry 800 people, but there won't be employees.  Instead the train is fully run by a computer and monitored by humans.

"Literally the train movement, the doors opening, the announcements that will be made at the station that the train is arriving or is leaving, all of that is all automated," said Dan Grabauskas, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) CEO. "If a train should proceed too quickly and encroach on the train that's ahead of it the system will automatically slow that train down or stop it before it actually gets to it."

As many as 17-18 trains will run during peak times.  Three people will watch them including a supervisor, one person at the controls and another watching the 1,500 cameras along the system.

"You basically have three people in that room operating the entire system," said Grabauskas.

If there is a power outage a backup generator will bring trains to stations.

Should someone need to talk with a human the trains and station platforms will have a button to reach an employee.

"In the event of an emergency or even if someone just wants to ask a question, and they'll be connected right back here to the operations building where they'll speak to a human being who can address whatever the concern or issue is," said Grabauskas.

There are a few dozen driverless systems in the world, but none in the United States.  The City says they are safer because you don't need to worry about a conductor texting or sleeping on the job.

"It will improve safety because as you've seen in some of the accidents around the country and world it's human error that causes accidents," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.

Even the tickets will be purchased by vending machine.  No humans, which all cuts down on the train's biggest expense, labor.

"This is a way to keep the costs down for the taxpayers of the City and County of Honolulu," said Mayor Caldwell.

The operating center is scheduled to be finished by 2016.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly