What’s the real cost of the Honolulu’s possible deal with rail contractor Ansaldo Honolulu? It’s a lot more than the $574 million that city officials announced last week.
Chief rail planner Toru Hamayasu made a point of mentioning the additional cost in a press conference announcing the new contracts, but said at the time he didn’t know what it would be. Civil Beat examined the company’s proposal but found the pages of Ansaldo’s operations and maintenance plan that are available for public inspection are partially redacted.
“You should be able to find $339,056,303 as the cost of the first 5 years full operation,” chief rail planner Toru Hamayasu told Civil Beat in an email.
That would be on top of about $167 million Ansaldo is asking for an interim operations and maintenance period. It means the city is planning to pay Ansaldo more than $1 billion 1 — not $574 million. The Italian manufacturer will produce “core systems,” that include train cars and a command center. And if Ansaldo Honolulu gets the contract the city plans to award, it will also handle the first five years of operations and maintenance.
City officials last week had made a big deal about how two new rail contracts totaling $946 million will cost the city $165 million less than it expected.
Ansaldo’s proposal shows several figures listed as “total” for operations and maintenance. Hamayasu said that’s because there are different representations based on inflation.
“The intermediate operation is in the year of expenditure dollars and other two are in current dollars because inflation is calculated with a formula included in the RFP,” Hamayasu said. “This was done so we can compare the costs fairly.”
The news about contracts comes as City Council members are raising more concerns about how the city will foot the bill for the $5.5 billion project.
City Council member and vocal rail critic Ann Kobayashi sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who visited Honolulu and expressed strong support of the project last week, detailing some of those concerns.
“The $574 million contract awarded to Ansaldo Honolulu guarantees a five year period for the operation and maintenance of the systems vehicles,” Kobayashi wrote. “But the $574 million only covers the construction cost of 80 train cars, as well as providing power and communications for the system, and does not provide for O&M funds for the five year period.”
City Council members told Civil Beat they will raise many of these questions in a Transportation and Transit Planning Committee meeting Wednesday. City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia said he expects the meeting will be “lively,” given what he said are “a lot” of new concerns from the City Council about rail. Transportation Committee Chairman Breene Harimoto has been vocal about his frustration with what he said is a lack of transparency from the Carlisle administration about the project.
“Tomorrow’s meeting, there are two items on the agenda regarding rail,” Harimoto told Civil Beat on Tuesday. “One is the announcement of the winning bidders, and the other is the transition to the transit authority. With both of those, council members have many questions and concerns. I think you’re going to see many of those concerns coming up from all council members. I think at this point they all feel the need to express their concerns.”
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