Poll: Support for rail is slipping, but majority say project needs to get to Ala Moana

Poll: Support for rail is slipping, but majority say project needs to get to Ala Moana
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Public support for the city's rail project is slipping.

That's just one of the takeaways of a new poll conducted by the pro-rail Pacific Resource Partnership, which is hoping the new survey will push Hawaii politicians to back the project more strongly.

"I think right now there is a level of frustration in the way in which the rail transit project has proceeded," said Kyle Chock, PRP interim executive director.

Pacific Resource Partnership is a labor management organization that represents the Hawaii Carpenters Union and all of its unionized contractors.

It's been tracking public opinion on rail and other issues, statewide, for years.

And the new poll underscores how the beleaguered rail project has left residents frustrated and worried about its future.

The survey found 45 percent of Oahu residents strongly or somewhat support the rail project, while 49 percent were opposed to it.

That's down from October, when 53 percent of residents favored the project and 38 percent were against it.

The new poll, conducted by well-known national firm Tulchin Research, includes 544 Oahu voters and has a margin of 4.2 percent.

The survey was conducted in late March, after weeks of headlines about rail's rising costs and as the city sought more tax dollars for the project.

PRP also asked participants whether Honolulu should cancel or shorten the project -- or build it as planned.

And to that question, there was a clear majority opinion: 60 percent of Oahu residents said the rail project should be built as planned to Ala Moana Center.

Some 31 percent, meanwhile, said the project should be torn down or it should end at Aloha Tower.

Residents also don't like the idea of new taxes for rail.

Some 67 percent of those polled said the state Legislature should extend Oahu's general excise tax surcharge to cover the costs of rail.

Just 4 percent supported increased to real property taxes, while 27 percent said government shouldn't do either.

"I think for the GET tax, people are used to paying an added half of percent and at this point because its being shared with visitors and military they feel it's the best, most equitable way to pay for the system," Chock said.

PRP has been showing its poll to state lawmakers, who are deciding this legislative whether to extend the GET surcharge.

Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke doesn't dispute the findings of the poll, but added, "we are called on to make decisions regardless of different public opinions because we do take into consideration facts and analysis."

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