After spate of bad news for rail, city celebrates a win with rail car unveiling

After spate of bad news for rail, city celebrates a win with rail car unveiling
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scores of invitees got a close-up look at Honolulu's first rail car on Monday, in a show-and-tell that offered some positive news for a project grappling with a spate of negative press.

"We've had a lot of bumps on this journey, but today, it's good to celebrate the good news," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Dan Grabauskas, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation CEO and executive director, said the look of the rail cars are one-of-a-kind.

"You'll see the floor is kind of the sand of the beach. The blue is the blue of the ocean for the actual seats themselves and the handrails are yellow for the sun, " he said. "We wanted to make sure there's a little bit of Hawaii on the interior as well."

In addition to those touches, the trains also feature technological advancements: It will be the first fully-automated, driverless system in the United States. The open gangway will allow passengers to move freely from end to end.

And there are some subtle design details that are function first. The seats aren't mounted to the floor so there's extra storage space underneath, and on the opposite side of the car there are fold-down seats that you can sit on when the train isn't crowded but stand next to when it is.

"You can bring your surfboard," Caldwell added. "Think about a kid on the west side that wants to surf Ala Moana bowls, he can do it. You've got luggage areas, bike racks."

Caldwell showed off the rail car just a few weeks after the release of a critical audit of the rail project. The audit said the project is relying on unreliable financial reporting and has an outdated plan for system maintenance.

There were no discussions about the audit Monday, though.

But at the unveiling of the first rail car at the Rail Operations Center in Peal City, HART board Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa did promise tough love and transparency moving forward.

"We want to concentrate on areas we believe people are not satisfied with what they've seen or heard to date," she said.

Mobile users: Click here to see a slideshow of the new rail car.

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