Marking ‘historic’ milestone, scores line up on opening day to ride Honolulu’s long-awaited rail

After years of costly delays, Hawaii marked a “historic” milestone Friday as the state’s largest public works project.
Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 8:21 AM HST|Updated: Jun. 30, 2023 at 4:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After years of costly delays, Hawaii marked a “historic” milestone Friday as the state’s largest public works project, the long-awaited Honolulu rail system, officially opened its first phase.

Scores of passengers lined up at the system’s Halawa station on Friday afternoon to board Skyline for the very first time — and for free.

“It’s beautiful,” one passenger said. “Finally, we get to ride the choo choo train.”

Nearly 9,000 members of the public rode Skyline on its first day, according to the city Department of Transportation Services.

The momentous day began with a grand opening ceremony, where Hawaii leaders gathered to welcome the new era of transit in Honolulu with the untying of the maile lei and music from the Royal Hawaiian Band.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Gov. Josh Green, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa were among the many leaders and elected officials who attended the opening ceremony.

“Today, you cannot overstate the word historic, you cannot overstate the word iconic, you cannot overstate the word transformative,” Blangiardi said.

Hawaii dignitaries took the first ride of the day aboard Skyline.

“It was smooth and the view was absolutely beautiful,” Gov. Green said.

Department of Transportation Services Deputy Director Jon Nouchi said this project has been 55 years in the making, from dream to implementation.

“It’s been a long road, not an easy one, but it was well worth it,” Nouchi said.

Lori Kahikina, HART Director and CEO, was beyond excited for the highly anticipated day to arrive.

“Today is the day,” she said. “I can’t believe it’s actually here.”

Many people, including the wife of former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, who was instrumental in rail’s vision, were overwhelmed with relief to see the rail system come into fruition.

“I’m just blessed to be able to ride it, I wish he were, he’s a got a picture in here,” Joyce Fasi said. “But you know, he would’ve been very pleased. But it could’ve happened 50 years ago.”

When asked if it was difficult to support Frank Fasi during the beginning stages of the rail system, she said, “What was difficult is when you have a vision and you can’t convince everybody else to see the same thing happening, but he was a visionary.”

Skyline officially opened to the public at 2 p.m.

The community is invited for a free ride on Skyline for Independence Day weekend, but Friday is the only day people catch a free ride without a HOLO card.

From July 1 to July 4, a HOLO card is needed.

“It’s the appetizer segment of the entire rail system,” said Roger Morton, director of the Department of Transportation Services. “Soon we will open segments to Ala Moana, Downtown.”


The second segment of Skyline is already in the works.

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

For more information or to learn how to purchase a HOLO card, head to the city’s Skyline site here.