So what should we be asking our City leadership and the rail authority to be doing? In February 2021, I proposed that the City consider a Plan C for HART. The current construction contract ends at Middle St. There are no firm plans for construction down the Dillingham Blvd. corridor. We are at a point where a revised recovery plan is due to the FTA by the end of the year. This is a great time to propose an option. Middle St. has been dismissed as unworkable by the City and HART, and I understand their reasons for that and I accept them.
However, embedded in the current Recovery Plan of 2019, is the determination that Lagoon Drive is, “the most practical location to transfer to and efficiently route connecting rail access services.”. I suggest that the City and HART study what it would take to transform the current Lagoon Dr. Station and surrounding areas into a modern, world–class transit station where riders would disembark from the rail and transfer to a fleet of express buses which will run on Nimitz Highway in an express lane. These express buses will serve Kalihi, Chinatown, Downtown, Kakaako, Ala Moana, Waikiki, and the University of Hawai`i. This pattern would be reversed in the afternoon and could accommodate thousands of riders per day.
I would suggest that the City and HART propose to the FTA that we spend the remaining $745 million of our Grant on a new, upgraded Transit Station, purchase a fleet of new electric express buses, build out the express lane and acquire the required rights of ways. We should consider making “smart lanes” by embedding technology in them so that in the near future we could have autonomous buses transporting people on them.