Poll: 71% of O‘ahu Residents Want Rail to Ala Moana Center

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Construction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project (also known as the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project) in progress in Waipahu along Farrington Highway near Fort Weaver Road. By Musashi1600 – Own work, CC BY 3.0 us,

A poll commissioned by the Laborers International Union of North America Local 368 and Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 630 and conducted by QMark Research found that 71% of O‘ahu residents believe Honolulu Rail Transit Project should be completed to Ala Moana Center and 87% feel completing the rail project is either very important (62%) or somewhat important (25%).

“We’ve seen and heard so many opinions in the media by people who claim to know what’s best for the rail project,” according to a statement by Peter Ganaban, business manager secretary-treasurer, Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 368, and Peter Iriarte, financial secretary-treasurer/business manager, Operative Plasterers’ & Cement Masons’ International Association Local 630.

“We thought it would be a good idea to go to the public and see what the people really want to happen, they said. “It wasn’t a surprise that most people wanted it completed, but we were surprised by the margin who want the project finished as planned and how strongly they felt about it.”


Highlights of the findings include:

Support for Rail

  • Total support for finishing rail all as planned all the way to Ala Moana is a record-high 71%.
  • A strong majority – 61% to 77% – in every Oahu council district support full completion of rail.
  • Support is strong for both the districts on rail route (Districts 1,6,7,8,9) and those off the rail route (Districts 2,3,4,5): 71%.
  • Even a majority (53%) of non-rail riders backed completion to Ala Moana Center, and among potential riders, support reached 90%.
  • 87% of supporters think it’s important to complete the project, with 62% calling it “very important.”

Reasons for feeling it’s important to complete the project as planed to Ala Moana include:

  • Needing a reliable alternative to H-1 for travel to/from West O‘ahu (86% agree)
  • If not completed, Honolulu will have to pay federal government back $750 million and lose $800 million more (75% agree)
  • If we stop at Middle Street there will not be enough paying riders to support the cost of operating the trains (72% agree)
  • Money spent on rail stays on O‘ahu and strengthens the local economy (60% agree)
  • If rail is stopped, thousands of workers will lose their jobs (59% agree)
  • Helping to reduce traffic congestion by taking many cars off the road (56% agree)
  • With the project already half completed and $6-plus billion already committed, it would be wasteful not to complete and get the benefits it delivers (55% agree)
  • Among the minority who don’t support the full route, more than half think it should stop at Middle Street and the minority think the entire route should be scrapped.

Funding for Rail

  • In commenting on the current collection of the ½ percent GET surcharge, 47% call it “not noticeable at all”, and 31% “not very noticeable.”
  • Of the 10% who call the GET surcharge “very noticeable,” most are those who already oppose the rail project’s completion.
  • 62% “agree” that a ten-year extension of the GET surcharge is a good way to bridge the budget shortfall. 30% “strongly” agree.
  • 51% “agree” that an increase in the TAT hotel room tax is a good way to bridge the budget shortfall. 22% “strongly agree.”
  • But 82% are opposed to an increase in Real Property Tax or city fees to bridge rail’s budget shortfall. 69% “strongly disagree.”
  • Between the two bills being considered at the end of the legislative session to fund the project, 57% preferred the Senate version, which was to extend the ½ percent GET surcharge.
  • Only 19% preferred the House version, which also included the TAT room tax but did not fully fund completion of the project.

Rail Ridership

  • 48% said that they expect to ride the rail system when it is complete, which is higher than in past surveys.
  • 57% expected that someone in their family household would ride the rail.


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