HART Served More Subpoenas, Council Defers Abolishing Agency, Public Asked About Rail Fares

Aug 8, 2019

A few Honolulu rail employees have been served federal subpoenas, the latest in several rounds issued in the ongoing probe of the $9.2 billion rail project.

Andrew Robbins, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation executive director and CEO, confirmed to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that a few employees have been asked to meet with federal investigators for questioning.

Robbins declined to provide any further information -- but said he was not among those served.

Three other federal subpoenas were issued to HART earlier this year for records relating to the rail project.

COUNCIL RESOLUTION

The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday deferred action on a resolution seeking to abolish the agency developing the troubled rail system.

The measure calls for a charter amendment that would transfer the operations of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to the city's transportation services department.

HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins spoke against the resolution. He said it could upset efforts to get more federal funding for the rail project.

Council Chair Ikaika Anderson introduced the resolution. He was upset that HART has been talking to the Federal Transit Administration without the council's input. He agreed to postpone the resolution but plans to redraft it.

"And I'd also like a commitment in that resolution going forward that anytime there are substantial communications regarding policy with any of our federal partners, any of our state partners, that HART as well as all of the elected leaders of the City and County of Honolulu participate in those discussions as full and equal partners," Anderson said at a meeting of the full council.

HOW MUCH SHOULD RAIL FARES COST?

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Rate Commission has scheduled meetings to hear from the public on how much the city should charge for transit fares.

Among the questions the commission plans to pose is whether bus and rail fares should be the same with no charge for transfers, whether there should be flat rates or distance-based rates and whether there should be discounts for groups like seniors and disabled persons.

The first meeting is set for 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the Mission Memorial hearing room. 

A second meeting is  scheduled at 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Mission Memorial hearing room.

The public can submit written testimony to Howard "Puni" Chee at his email address hchee@honolulu.gov or mailed to Rate Commission, c/o Howard "Puni" Chee, Department of Transportation Services (C&C Honolulu), 650 South King Street, Second Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813.