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Honolulu: The new metro is running!

Waipahu Station | © Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation

Aloha! The first metro in Hawaii is taking off: At 2 p.m. on 30 June 2023, the official opening ceremony took place, and since 1 July, trains have been running as scheduled on the first section along Pearl Harbour Bay in the vicinity of the metropolis of Honolulu. “Skyline” – the brand name of the new system – runs almost entirely on elevated alignment for an initial length of 17.4 km, stopping at 9 stations between the termini at Kualaka`i/East Kapolei and Hālawa/Aloha Stadium.

Here, in tropical surroundings on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian archipelago, public transport played only a subordinate role for decades. As in many other cities in the USA, getting around in and around Honolulu, which is characterised by a dispersed settlement structure, was very much geared towards individual transport. In order to offer an attractive alternative to individual car traffic and also to the regular bus service, plans for the construction of a high-speed rail link began to take shape almost 20 years ago. Construction work began in February 2011. However, various technical problems, necessary corrections and improvements in the construction work and, last but not least, the need for increased financing due to the sharp rise in costs led to several delays.

But now the time has finally come – for the time being, five trains will be in daily service on the first section at 10-minute intervals. These are four-car, driverless units with a capacity of up to 800 passengers, of which the manufacturer Hitachi Raul has delivered a total of 20. However, this number will not actually be needed until the entire line has been completed. The trains are maintained at the depot and workshop area west of Hālaulani stop.

The next section to be completed by 2025 is the extension from Hālawa/Aloha Stadium over 4 stops and 8.3 km in length to Kahauiki/Middle Street-Kalihi Transit Centre – here construction work is already well advanced. Even further into Honolulu’s city centre, the third, 5.3 km long section to Ka’akaukukui/Civic Center with 6 more stations is scheduled to open by 2031.

Continued construction to Kália/Ala Moana Center with 2 additional stations, which will bring the total line to 32.2 km in length and 21 stations, had been on hold for some time, but funding for that was also committed in the fall of 2022.

© Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Another map is available here: https://www.urbanrail.net/am/hono/honolulu.htm

Construction costs of the entire project are currently estimated at USD 12.4 bn plus an expected financing cost of approx. USD 1 bn. This is approximately 150% higher than the original budget.

The metro system is operated by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART).