By : Darren Pai
(KHNL) - The debate over rail transit could be nearing an end. The Honolulu City Council today approved a bill, directing the city to build a rail transit system on O'ahu.
In a marathon session - the council listened to more than eight hours of public testimony today. the council is still debating the approval of a bill directing the city to build a rail transit system.
"I bicycle from Kailua, where I live, to downtown where I work every day. Takes me an hour," Chad Taniguchi said. He supports a rail system. "If rail transit goes in, you're going to have more people in a mode where you don't need a car. To get to the rail transit stop, they can walk or they can bicycle."
University of Hawaii students also urged the city build a rail system saying 28,000 students and faculty now share 5500 parking spaces.
UH Student President Grant Teichman supports a rail system.
"Quite frankly, because there's a parking crisis on campus. And when faced with either building more parking spaces or more classroom buildings, clearly we want more classroom buildings," Teichman said.
Hundreds of university students signed petitions say parking at their school is terrible is terrible and they support a rail system. As far as cost is concerned, some say they're willing to pay the extra taxes.
"As future taxpayers, I'm graduating soon, it's something we decided we needed to support for the next generation of college students," Teichman said.
Opponents have criticized the 0.5% general excise tax surcharge that will fund the project.
"I think it's going to really tear at the fabric of our society because it's going to really hurt the ones who can least afford it the most," rail opponent Bobbie Slater said.