Reality Check Needed for Honolulu Rail Project Job Count Estimate

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A recent Star Advertiser report on jobs associated with the rail project is pure editorial posing as reportage. It is almost as bad as the treatment given a Letter to the Editor today by Joe Uno. He makes the case that the millions needed to cover rail’s operating shortfall will cause a cutback in city programs. The headline, which is all that most people read, is “If rail fails, other programs will suffer.”

That’s the exact opposite of what he wrote.


The article on jobs is titled, “Rail jobs plentiful regardless of who’s counting.” This headline is, of course, intended to eliminate any doubts about the vast number of jobs to be created. However, all the article does is rehash the output for peak years jobs from various computer models, from UHERO’s 5,500 to the Final EIS of 17,250. That kind of disparity in outputs should give you pause, if nothing else.

There is no check of computer models against reality. As we keep saying, it should be reasonably easy to check on the number of jobs needed for comparable projects in San Juan, Miami, Vancouver, and elsewhere. Knowing the actual number of jobs created, we can then make appropriate adjustment for project size, labor productivity, and differences in construction type, to arrive at a close estimate of jobs that would be needed.

The fact that no one is attempting to make any check with reality to test their computer models is enough to tell us they do not want to know the likely answer.

The only solid indications we have so far are the 350 local jobs that Kiewit Pacific says they will hire for the first segment and the 300 local jobs that Ansaldo says they will hire. That begs the question, can the same 350 Kiewit workers go on to build the second and third segments?