All aboard! Here’s everything you need to know if you want to ride Skyline

Riders will be able to go onboard the Skyline beginning on Friday at 2 p.m.
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 3:49 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 30, 2023 at 12:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu’s new rail system Skyline will welcome its first riders starting Friday at 2 p.m.

The first phase of the long-awaited rail line spans nine stations — from Halawa to East Kapolei.

It takes 22 minutes for a one-way ride of the system.

After a trial period from June 30 to July 4 with free rides, service on the long-delayed line will begin in earnest. And if you’re planning to use Skyline for your commute, here’s what you need to know:

Getting to the Station:

Of the nine stations that will be opening, three stations currently have parking lots for Skyline riders.

The Keoneae Station near the University of Hawaii West Oahu has a 900-space parking lot and the Honouliuli station near the Hoopili residential area has a 350-space parking lot. The Halawa Station near Aloha Stadium has a 600-space lot.

All stations, with the exception of the Kalauao and Halaulani Station, also have a drop-off area.

Additionally, all stations have bicycle parking, ADA pedestrian access, as well as an elevator, escalator and stairs.

The city has a new Skyline information webpage available here.

WATCH: City offers details on Skyline’s grand opening
City officials held a press conference on Thursday to provide more details for the public ahead of Skyline's grand opening on Friday.
At the Station:

After arriving at the station, the first thing needed to aboard Skyline is a valid HOLO Card.

No cash will be accepted to ride the train.

A one-way ride on the train will cost passengers $3 — the same price for a single ticket as TheBus.

HOLO Card kiosks will be set up at the entrance to each station, where passengers can purchase a new card or add funds to an existing one. HOLO Cards will be used for Skyline, Handi-Van, and TheBus operations.

To purchase a HOLO Card:
  1. At the kiosk, press the gray button labeled “1″ to get started.
    1. As a word of caution, the kiosk screen is not touchscreen.
  2. To purchase a new card, press the button labeled “new card.”
    1. The card without any funds costs $2.
  3. To load the card, select either “stored value” or “day pass.”
    1. Stored value: allows passengers to load their new HOLO card with funds between $2.75 to $50.
    2. Day pass: will cost passengers $7.50 – the same price as a day pass for TheBus.
  4. Then, complete the purchase by paying with either card or cash.
    1. If paying in cash, make sure to use exact change.

Other than purchasing them at the station, HOLO Cards can also be bought at participating stores around the island. These stores include 7-Eleven, ABC Stores, Foodland, Palama Supermarket, and Times Supermarket.

To get into the station, the process is easy. Just tap your Holo Card on the transit card reader at the electric gates and head on in!

Awaiting the Skyline:

While each of the stations may showcase different cultural designs unique to their surrounding communities, the services and amenities available are unanimous across the nine stops.

Each station has:

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi at trains and stations
  • Station attendants
  • Closed-circuit video cameras and security personnel

While these amenities are available, it is important to note that there are no public restrooms at stations. Access into a restroom requires a station attendant.

Skyline Ride:

At every Skyline station, trains are scheduled to come every 10 minutes.

So, even if riders miss a connection, wait times will be fairly short.

Generally, the same rules of TheBus system apply to riders of Skyline.

As usual, eating food and drinks are not allowed. However, unlike TheBus, riders can bring items such as bikes, small electric vehicles like scooters, luggages, coolers, and even surfboards. Overhead racks are available above aisle seats for these larger items.

Wi-Fi is available on every Skyline train. However, there are no charging stations.

To ensure the safety of all riders, the Skyline transit system has 1,800 surveillance cameras. Since the trains are driverless, riders have access to emergency buttons if they feel unsafe.

End Destinations:

While Skyline bypasses the bulk of driving to your favorite locations, it does not necessarily bypass a walk.

For those who love to shop, Skyline has a station across from Pearlridge Shopping Center.

The Kalauao Station, which is along Kamehameha Highway, is a 7-minute walk from Pearlridge Shopping Center and has a Handi-Van pick-up and drop-off site.

Unfortunately, shoppers wishing to travel to Kapolei’s Ka Makana Alii via Skyline are out of luck. The Kualakai Station in East Kapolei is a lengthier 21-minute walk away from the mall.

While Skyline officials expressed interest in extending the Kapolei line to Ka Makana Alii, it is unclear when this extension will occur.

Although Skyline may not be ideal for those looking for leisure yet, definite beneficiaries of the transit system are college students attending school on the West side.

Skyline’s Halaulani Station is in the parking lot of Leeward Community College’s campus, and the Keoneae Station in Kapolei is a 10-minute walk to UH West Oahu.

Furthermore, Skyline’s Keoneae Station also has TheBus local services to Kapolei, Ewa Beach, West Loch, and even an express service to Waianae for UH West Oahu students living at home.

The Halaulani Station at Leeward Community College does not have any TheBus services.

So what now?

With Skyline’s officially opening Friday at 2 p.m., officials forewarned the public to anticipate large crowds to test the new transit system.

At a press conference on Thursday, Director of the Department of Transportation Services J. Roger Morton estimated around 30,000 to 50,000 riders to come to Skyline’s opening day.

“However, that estimate may be lowballing it,” he said.

In anticipation of large crowds, Deputy Director of the Department of Transportation Services Jon Nouchi asked the public to be mindful of neighboring communities affected by Skyline’s opening.

In consideration of residential areas, Nouchi especially cautioned against lining up cars near the Keoneae and Honouliuli park-and-ride stations.

Additionally, Nouchi recommended opening weekend riders to get off the train periodically along the route, rather than riding the entire route roundtrip in one go. In this way, Skyline trains — especially those at the beginning and end of the routes — will be less likely to reach maximum capacity as they proceed to other stations.

Most of all, Nouchi urged riders to show aloha, and extend aloha to others. Simple gestures such as practicing elevator etiquette and restraining from riding smaller vehicles like bikes or scooters in stations, can go a long way to ease Skyline’s opening.

From Saturday, July 1, Skyline will be open to the public on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For those looking to ride Skyline during its opening weekend, locations of stations and popular attractions are listed below.

All station locations so far:
  • Kualakai: at the corner of Keahumoa Pkwy and Kualakai Pkwy
    • 21-minute walk from Ka Makana Alii
  • Keoneae: at the corner of Hoomohala Ave and Kualakai Pkwy
    • 10-minute walk from UH West Oʻahu
  • Honouliuli: near Hoopili Residential area
  • Hoaeae: at the corner of Farrington Hwy and Leoku St.
  • Pouhala: at the corner of Farrington Hwy and Hikimoe St.
  • Halaulani: in the parking lot of Leeward Community College campus
  • Waiawa: across the corner of Kamehameha Hwy and Kuala St.
  • Kalauao: 980077 Kamehameha Hwy
    • 7-minute walk from Pearlridge Center
  • Halawa: at the corner of Kamehameha Hwy and Salt Lake Blvd
    • 3-minute walk from Aloha Stadium

For more information, head to the city’s Skyline site here.