Rising Debt for Honolulu Rail

Bob Marx
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Bob Marx

Bob Marx, Hilo attorney, bookstore owner, and candidate for Hawai‘i’s Second Congressional District, calls the Honolulu Rail Project an impossible financial burden on the entire state.

Speaking to a group of students in Pahoa today, Marx addressed the issue of the Honolulu rail project. “This is Mufi Hannemann’s pet project that he abandoned to run for governor, quite unsuccessfully I might add,” Marx began. “Now it appears another Honolulu politician, Tulsi Gabbard, has decided to take Mufi’s reigns and put the state deeper into financial crisis by supporting a $450,000,000 ‘paper’ loan,” Marx stated.


The original vote for the rail which passed in 2008 was for $3.7 billion and the rail was supposed to run from Kapolei to the University of Hawai‘i. Now, just the first step of the project will cost $5.3 billion, skip Salt Lake and not even get to the University.

“Gabbard continues to show her loyalty to the voters of the FIRST congressional district, which she rightfully should, as she represents many of them on the Honolulu Council. Gabbard and Mufi have no business running for a seat that encompasses the neighbor islands and should rightfully be running for the district in which they live. Both are asking Kaneohe, Kailua, Haleiwa, Wainae, Waimanalo, Makaha and the rest of rural Oahu to float the bill for this incredibly unpopular and untimely elevated train project,” Marx said, bluntly.

The city said they wouldn’t need the funds unless “the moon fell into the ocean.” Now, just a few months later, they are asking for these funds. “If this wasn’t serious business it would be laughable,” Marx quipped. “We still have the second highest per capita debt in the nation: $8000 for every man, woman and child living on the islands, and yet Honolulu wants to put us further in debt? I am happy to see Council Members Ann Kobayashi and Tom Berg opposing this impossible fiscal burden on the rest of the state.” Marx said.

Ka‘eo Malaka, a college student in Hilo, asked him what can be done to relieve the burden of traffic and congestion in Honolulu. “We can start with animproved bus system. We must prioritize support for the workers and those looking for work that don’t have transportation, not simply provide alternatives for those who do. This shouldn’t be about convenience–it should be about jobs–and this rail project does nothing to help traffic congestion in Honolulu or help people who are struggling with high fuel prices.”

Studies in cities with rail programs consistently show the same thing: when people are already using public transportation like buses, ride-shares, or light-rail, they become accustomed to not using their car and will jump on board a train. When they are not accustomed to using public transportation, the transition period is much longer and the costs and projected revenues take much longer than forecasts anticipated. The vote for the funding of the program is set for June 4th.


The Second Congressional District encompasses most of rural Oahu and all the neighbor islands. Mr. Marx, a Hilo attorney and long-time community activist, is running against Oahu residents Mufi Hannemann, Tulsi Gabbard, and Esther Kia‘aina and for the open seat. Marx lives in the district and is the only Candidate in the race from a county other than Honolulu. 

This piece was submitted by the Bob Marx for Congress campaign





  1. Vegas Lite rail Cost 4 Billion 4 mile lite rail—–> Ridership —–> 50 Million in 5 years….. still Bankrupt…

    Ok——-> Hawaii 5 Billion —- 15 mile lite rail—no way—- I will ignore this part…

    Now that means… We need every resident to Ride the Light 50 times a year… to Break Even…

    if and only… they think they can build 15 miles for 5 Billion… when vegas only did 4 miles for 4 Billion…

    A remote pacific lsland… should be far cheaper… no skill workers or steel on island…… yeah right!

    Now… if you want to make some money…. buy options… on the Lite Rail Bonds…that they will goto to Junk Bond Status….

    Now You will make some… $$$$…I bet WallStreet… will!

    Replace—-> Las Vegas with Oahu… and that will be the Lite Rail Reality…

    Las Vegas Monorail files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

    Las Vegas: Monorail ridership drops nearly 12%

    Las Vegas: Monorail bonds fall to “junk” status

    Las Vegas Monorail: “Woeful” ridership prompts financial jitters

    Las Vegas Monorail extension plans in doubt after FTA nixes funding

    Las Vegas Monorail: More technical limitations coming to light?

    Seattle and Las Vegas monorails reopen

    Las Vegas eyes light rail, other options for interurban service

    Las Vegas monorail…Shrink-wrap ads removed?

    Las Vegas Monorail shut down

    Las Vegas Monorail: Troublesome Technology in a Unique “Niche” Application

  2. Oddly I heard Tulsi give a speech once and vow to do what the people wanted her to do. Perhaps she forgot that vow she made in a public forum. That is too bad. Mayhaps she needs a little more time to understand her role in politics as being a representative, rather than opting for her choices only. Yes, it stinks to have to represent people that want something contrary to what you think is best in the long run Tulsi, but when the people speak on the ground and you represent them as their leader, taken an oath to do so, your personal merit and value is judged solely by the actions in representing the unpopular and discordant people’s needs and wants until those needs and wants can be ironed out. Leading is not always a pleasant job, but some of us do it because we love people and not THINGS. Get with the program and figure out what you love and which GOD you kneel to.

  3. Bob Marx doesn’t seem to understand the legislative process, which is odd considering what he’s running for. The final vote on the $450M line of credit isn’t until June 6th. All the votes taken so far are basically to allow for more public comment. People should come out and let their voices be heard before this vote is taken.

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