Too Many Trips To Study Rail? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Too Many Trips To Study Rail?

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Councilman Charles Djou Councilman Charles Djou

By: Darren Pai

(KHNL) - One member of the Honolulu City Council says city officials are taking an excessive number of trips to study rail transit systems.

"This rail system seems to be the best airline ticket around town," said Councilman Charles Djou.

In September, council members traveled to Vancouver, B.C. study it's Skytrain and surrounding development. One council member who joined the delegation said the trip was a valuable experience.

"I was really impressed with Vancouver," said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi. "First of all they have a great rail system but secondly they put pedestrians first."

It was one of at least eight rail study trips this year. Besides Vancouver, city officials visited Washington D.C., Chicago, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Korea and China.

"Ii've been riding a lot of rail, i've been riding a lot of bus on all of the trips," Kobayashi said. "I think it was in Portland we took rail from the airport to town."

Djou said some of these trips are a waste of taxpayer money.

"After a certain point in time why are we sending so many elected officials to so many different places oftentimes to see the exact same rail system," Djou said.

The council is expected to vote on rail by the end of the year. Mayor Mufi Hannemann questioned the timing of some of these recent trips, saying they should have been taken much earlier.

"We're facing a very tight window right now, so I just hope we're going to meet that deadline given the amount of travel they want to do," Hannemann said.

Hannemann took two rail study trips to asia this year. Both were paid for by private companies.

"I don't feel there's a conflict to do our trips in terms of using taxpayer dollars if you will," Hannemann said. "I feel every one of those trips can be justified or any one of them that have been private sector financed can be justified."

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