Honolulu rail officials worry about ‘being overwhelmed’ by crowds as system opens

Honolulu rail leaders are bracing for large crowds as Skyline opens Friday at 2 p.m., with free rides through July 4.
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 5:04 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2023 at 6:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu rail leaders are bracing for large crowds as Skyline opens Friday at 2 p.m., with free rides through July 4.

Officials are hoping the system won’t be overwhelmed.

At a press conference Thursday, the city Transportation Services Director Roger Morton and Deputy Director Jon Nouchi emphasized that there will be nine stations opening Friday – offering multiple places to board. They said they hope the crowds will spread themselves out over the route - and over the weekend.

“I’m really hyped and i want to invite all parts of our beautiful island to come and get to ride all our rail,” Morton said, but also hoped not all at once. “To be honest we are mostly fearful that we will be overwhelmed.”

The city is just learning how to manage the system, having received it from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation just three weeks ago. They are also aware most people know even less about how to ride a mass transit train.

Nouchi urged people to adopt “elevator etiquette” when boarding trains.

“We’ve timed it such that there should be plenty of time for people to depart the train,” he said. “Let them (riders) depart then go ahead and enter after they depart.”

Although the cars don’t start or stop suddenly, they warned, if you are standing hold on to something. They also cautioned about blindly heading up to the train platforms, because you could end up choosing the platform going the wrong direction.

“You’ve got to be mindful of whether you are going to be going on track one or track two,” Morton said. “There are electronic displays to help determine where the train is going.”

All nine stations will open precisely at 2 p.m.

Also opening at two will be three free park-n-rides at Halawa, Hoopili and UH West Oahu.

There’s paid parking at Aloha Stadium.

Rail parking won’t be allowed at Leeward Community College or at shopping centers.

To avoid parking hassles, they urge riders to take a bus, which will also be free for the holiday weekend, or be dropped off or walk in.

You can also bring personal wheels on the trains — like bicycles or electric skateboards.

Five trains will be running on a full schedule — arriving about every 10 minutes.

The round trip takes about 45 minutes.

Officials said if you decide to leave a train, keep in mind you might have to wait to catch another one — so don’t push it too close to the 7 p.m. closing.

“We want to make sure everybody gets back to where they started,” Nouchi said.

Finally, you can’t eat in stations or trains, but sipping water is fine. There are restrooms, with changing stations, but you have to ask an attendant to use them.

“There are not a lot of restrooms — they are available,” Morton said. “You know, if you gotta go you gotta go, and that’s what they are there for.”

A Holo card will be needed to use the system after Friday, although they will not be charged for rides on the bus or Skyline until Wednesday.

It’s not a bad idea to have one anyway, in case you want to use Skyline or the bus to actually commute to school or work.