Fasi remembered as rail champion

Published: Feb. 4, 2010 at 11:07 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 5, 2010 at 4:59 PM HST
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The "SoukiYama" Express Rail Car
The "SoukiYama" Express Rail Car
Joe Souki
Joe Souki

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - Even as Mayor Hannemann pushes forward with rail transit today he's following in Frank Fasi's steps. Fasi was one of the first supporters of rail more than 40 years ago.

The Honolulu rail idea is not new. It began with Mayor Neal Blaisdell back in 1968. But it was Fasi who became a champion of the idea shortly after he became mayor.

His plan called for a 29 mile route between Pearl City and Hawaii Kai. He called it the "Honolulu Area Rail Rapid Transit" or "HART" project. It died in 1981 when Mayor Eileen Anderson said it would cost too much. But when Fasi won re-election in 1984, he brought the idea back.

State Representative Joe Souki told the story how Fasi used the "art of politics" to persuade him and other politicians to vote for rail funding.

"I was the finance chairman at that time and Yamasaki was the senate ways and means chairman and we were both giving Frank a hard time about rail. So Frank, to appease us, came with model train which I still have in my office and he named it "Soukiyama," recalled Rep. Souki.

Despite the gesture that proposal ultimately died in 1992 after the city council voted against it.

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