Rail poll pumps up opponents and supporters

Published: Jul. 30, 2012 at 9:30 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A majority of likely voters want the rail project stopped. That's what a Hawaii News Now and Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll showed.

In response to the question, "Should work proceed on Oahu's Rail Transit system?" 50 percent of respondents said "No." It's down from a February poll, but up five points from a poll in May, 2011.

"When you consider the amount of money that has been spent by special interests like PRP in pushing the pro-rail position, it's amazing that it's held up," said rail opponent Cliff Slater, who runs the web site

But 43 percent think the project should move forward. Support is up slightly from February but down from the May, 2011 poll.

"While we're not over the 50 percent mark, I'm hoping that people are seeing the improvements that we've made to reducing costs at HART, cutting our budget, and trying to do some things right like add seats to the trains," HART executive director Dan Grabauskas said.

If it's built, the elevated rail line will link East Kapolei to the Ala Moana Center, a 20-mile stretch.

"I've seen public transit systems similar to this project, and it's worked really well," Hauula resident Spencer Sheets said.

"I think Hawaii can't afford rail," said Noe Foster of Hawaii Kai. "I think in an age where people can work from home or can work remotely, rail isn't the best idea for a green community."

Mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano is running on an anti-rail platform. Incumbent Mayor Peter Carlisle and ex-city managing director Kirk Caldwell support rail.

The upcoming election is being seen by many as a referendum on rail. The poll gives proponents and opponents fresh ammunition.

"We've been promoting the fact that the city says in the final EIS that traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse," Slater said.

"We're already under construction. Traffic is certainly not getting any better. Gas prices are still high. The combination says this is going to be a project that's going to be a winner," Grabauskas said.

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