HONOLULU Authority for Rapid Transportation (Hart) expects to open the first section of the city’s much-delayed metro within the next six months, although no official opening date has been set for the initial 17.6km section from East Kapolei to central Honolulu.

Interim revenue service had been expected to start in mid-2017, but was later postponed to August 2022.

Hart executive director, Ms Lori Kahikina, says the authority is now aiming to enter the system demonstration phase within the next few weeks, which would run for a period of 45 to 60 days. Public service would then start “within the next few months.”

City Department of Transportation Services director, Mr Roger Morton, told the Hart board last week that the earliest the metro could open to the public would around June or July.

Opening of the first section has been delayed many times in recent years as Hart has tackled construction issues and cost concerns on the $US 10bn project to build a 30.4km metro line with 21 stations from East Kapolei to Alana Moana Center.

On the initial 17.6km section to the west of the city centre, test runs have been underway since August 2022 as work continues to repair cracks in concrete piers supporting the elevated stations.

The complete network, including the final 12.8km section through the centre of Honolulu to Alana Moana Center, is now expected to open in spring of 2031.

As part of a recovery plan agreed with the US Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Hart and the City and County of Honolulu have reduced the scope of the project as defined by the original federal Full Funding Grant Agreement.

This has included postponing construction of the final 2km of elevated alignment from Civic Center to Kakaʻako and Ala Moana Center, which will now be undertaken as a separate phase of the project.

Meanwhile, Hart is holding an information session on February 28 for potential bidders for a contract to design and build 5.68km of elevated alignment and six stations on the section running from east of Middle Street - Kalihi Transit Center station to Civic Center.

Hart is expecting to issue Part 1 of the Request for Proposals (RFP) next month, with Part 2 to be released immediately after shortlisting is completed this summer. The contract would then be awarded by March 2024.

According to the City of Honolulu’s rail recovery plan agreed last year, operating and maintaining the metro system will cost $US 103m in the financial year which starts on July 1. This is less than 50% of the $US 264m cost of operating the city’s bus network over the same period.

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