The Honolulu Rail Line soft opening (might be) happening this summer

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  • Published on March 6, 2023
  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • In News

The rail line, which has been in construction for 12 years, is set to have a soft opening this summer. Here’s what you need to know.

There is a major update for folks following construction on Hawaii’s rail line. Officials from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) recently confirmed that an interim opening of the Honolulu Rail Line will happen sometime this summer.

According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, Department of Transportation Services Director Roger Morton told the HART board that the earliest the public could go for a ride on the rail system “would be in the June-ish time frame,” later adding, “my definition of June-ish includes July.” As of right now, only 11 miles out of the 19-mile rail are slated to be complete by the summer. The rail line will not be complete until 2031.

The city is currently planning a “soft opening,” which is said to be followed by a grand opening with approximately 300 invited guests from Washington, D.C., and the Federal Transit Administration. This would then be followed up with a free weekend for Oahu residents, where they are encouraged to take a free ride to get a feel for the system.

“We want to make this a fun opening, and we are planning a series of promotional events,” Morton said.

The upcoming launch is a long time coming for Honolulu’s rail line project. Construction began in February 2011, but there have been a handful of setbacks to the project and planned subsequent openings. In 2021, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said that he wanted an interim opening to happen in August 2022. This never came to fruition.

The upcoming opening is an exciting development for both locals and potential tourists, but there are some things to note for those who are planning on taking part in the inaugural ride.

Honolulu stops will not be featured in this round of routes: The 11-mile segment of the rail system set to launch will be from East Kapolei (Kualakai station) to Aloha Stadium (Halawa station) near Pearl Harbor. Based on the rail system’s current route, locals may find the upcoming launch more appealing than visitors who may not want to venture out.

The airport rail stop will not be operational: Tourists who plan to use the rail system to go from the airport to get to their hotel in Waikiki will have to wait a bit longer, as the soft opening will include stops west of the Honolulu Airport. According to Forbes, once the stop launches, however, heading straight to Waikiki from the airport won’t be as easy as it seems. The rail’s final stop is at the Ala Moana Center, which is on the outskirts of Waikiki. Walking or extra transportation would be required to get to your final destination.

The launch date is still TBD: The goal is to launch in the summer, but there hasn’t been a set date announced. Also, soft openings have been planned previously, only to be stalled. While it would be exciting for 2023 to be the year the rail gets up and running, we’ll have to wait and see what June-ish/July brings.


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