BY HONOLULU COUNCIL MEMBER TOM BERG – I was the only council member to vote NO – vote against Bill 14. I objected to cutting funds, or rather, objected to the council not fully funding what the bus needed for its operations. Cutting bus routes has resulted in longer commutes, longer wait times, and compounded the syndrome of being packed into the bus like sardines in a sardine can. The council made a mistake in cutting bus routes and must reverse course in my opinion.
As the only member voting against the cuts, I am offering my colleagues a suggestion the council should go into special session and restore the funding to the bus – which means we need to come up with $3 million. If we merely stop the rail propaganda efforts costing us over $4 million a year in staff salaries alone to specifically pitch rail, we could do it!
Remember now, when the voters in 2010 voted for a Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) to run the rail, the pro railers stated HART would not cost anything. Reality check: It now costs us over $22 million a year to sustain HART – the director is making over $322k a year in salary; they are renting expensive office space in town instead of Kapolei; and the list of fleecing the taxpayer with 24 hires alone just to promote rail propaganda goes on and on. Read about it in this article- click here.
Bill 14 also included a $70,000.00 appropriation to teach adults how to ride a bicycle. The waste and misuse of our tax dollars is there. I ask for your support to help me convince the rest of the council members to reopen the budget bill and make right. Restore our bus service! See some snippets put together from the June 28 Transportation Committee hearing:
A simple email to the other council members that you support a special session for the purposes of opening up Bill 14 again and restoring the funding for bus service would be greatly appreciated. If you do not want to email the other council members, you can email me and I will use your email like a petition drive to convey the message. I will continue on my end advocating for the special session at every council meeting until we succeed. MAHALO for your consideration.
In conclusion, pro-railers contend cuts to the bus has nothing to do with rail, this is not true. The city’s debt service ceiling was raised to fund the rail. This jeopardized funding for all other core functions of government services – including the bus.
This youtube details the price of rail and how it will cripple us for generations to come:
The good Councilman Berg is right to challenge the City’s weakly rationalized cuts to TheBus, especially in light of the millions casually thrown away for a doomed-to-fail rail system. If unpredictable, sometimes rising, sometimes falling, fuel costs were indeed the primary factor in reducing service, then the Department of Transportation Services need only look to hedging its purchases either on the open market (yes, along with the “bad” speculators) or through its suppliers. Although there is a cost to this strategy, budget uncertainty is mitigated.
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