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Board gives positive review of Honolulu rail authority CEO, but staffing questions remain

HART honolulu rail track construction.jpeg
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit
A segment of the Honolulu rail in October 2021.

Members of the board of directors of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation generally praised the performance of Lori Kahikina as Interim CEO although Board Chair Colleen Hanabusa raised questions about staffing levels at the rail transit organization.

HART’s Human Resources Committee held a meeting to evaluate Kahikina’s performance over the past year.

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Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Official photo for HART Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Lori Kahikina

Kahikina gave a presentation in which she listed numerous accomplishments, including cancelling what she called an ineffective contract with Nan, Inc. to relocate utilities from Middle Street through Kakaʻako, improving communications with local and federal officials, and reducing staff by 45 percent.

Hanabusa asked Kahikina to provide more information on HART’s current staffing.

"I want to know since that time how many personnel we have lost," Hanabusa said. "And we don’t need names.  Just need things like reasons why, other than they left for whatever reason and where we are on the status of those.  Because I think there is a still a concern over whether we have critical pukas in the HART organization."

Kahikina also shared results of an internal survey taken in June and December of 2021 which showed an improvement among staff morale in areas such as trust in HART management and belief that the rail project is moving in the right direction.

Kahikina signed a two-year contract to be HART’s permanent CEO, effective beginning this year.

Scott Kim is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact him at
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