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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              August 23, 2005 Release No. M-59






Mayor Mufi Hannemann signed Bill 40, establishing an excise tax surcharge for mass transit, into law in a ceremony in the courtyard of Honolulu Hale this morning (Tuesday, August 23, 2005). Bill 40 establishes a general excise tax surcharge of one-half percent for the City to fund a mass transit system. The tax would not be levied until January 1, 2007, provided certain conditions are met. 


Present for the ceremony were House Speaker Calvin Say, key members of the Legislature and the Honolulu City Council and representatives for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie. In addition, various groups and individuals who support mass transit for Oahu were on hand.


“This is an historic occasion for our children and the generations who will follow them,” said the mayor. “In 1992, the City Council rejected a rail system – and more than $600 million in federal funds to help pay for it. I ask you, has our traffic situation improved since then and are we better off for it? The answer is a resounding No!


“Thanks to the Legislature’s passage of House Bill 1309, which gave us the authority to impose a county tax surcharge for mass transit, and the City Council’s approval of Bill 40, we are back on track and poised to move forward with an alternatives analysis/draft environmental impact statement,” said the mayor. “The support of Senator Inouye and Congressman Abercrombie have been vital to this effort. And so was the grassroots work of the hundreds of people who held signs, testified or wrote and called to back this effort. To all of you, a big mahalo.”


The Hannemann administration expects to name the primary contractor for the alternatives analysis shortly. The mayor noted that the study will examine not only the rail option but all other ideas and alternatives. In addition, the mayor will continue to pursue other, shorter-term remedies to traffic congestion on Oahu, including a commuter ferry linked to City buses, better traffic management practices such as improved traffic signal synchronization and shifting more jobs to West Oahu.


            “I said back in April that the stars appeared to be in alignment for us to pursue mass transit again. I have long felt, and still feel that traffic is the biggest challenge to our quality of life.


“A rail transit system will be a critical aspect of traffic relief on Oahu because it offers the most efficient way to meet future transportation needs and it will, when it’s done, provide a predictable alternative to taking a chance on our already-overcrowded roads.  To arrive at that point, we’ll have to maintain our resolve and keep the future of Honolulu in mind.”




Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

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