How do Oahu voters feel about the Honolulu rail project?

Not so great.

The Civil Beat Poll shows that 41 percent of people surveyed say that how the rail work has unfolded — with cost overruns and a tax increase extension — is “troubling.”

About that same number (42 percent) say building rail was a “bad” idea.

HART Rail Train Number 1. 2 may 2016.
Honolulu’s first rail train is here, but how far will it be able to roll? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Just 15 percent of voters say they feel “good” about how the whole project is progressing. Two percent say they are unsure.

That said, a healthy majority — 64 percent — still want the rail line to go the full 20 miles from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center. Only 28 percent want to stop the route at Middle Street, which is 4.3 miles and eight planned stations shy of the popular shopping mall.

“This isn’t exactly buyer’s remorse, but it’s something that deeply divides many Oahu residents,” said Matt Fitch, executive director of Merriman River Group, which conducted The Civil Beat Poll. “But I think there is also the sense that it’s underway, let’s just finish the damn thing.”

In a separate question, voters were given the option of Ala Moana, Middle Street, tearing the project down or ending it where it is at. Go to Ala Moana, said a clear majority (55 percent) again.

Civil Beat surveyed 851 registered Oahu voters July 25-27. The poll sampled 70 percent landlines and 30 percent cell phones and had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

How should Honolulu pay for rail? The route is currently estimated to be short $1.5 billion of what’s needed to get to Ala Moana.

If more local taxes are unavoidable, nearly half surveyed (48 percent) prefer the additional revenue come from the general excise tax. Oahu voters are already paying a 0.5 percent GET surcharge until 2027 for rail.

Hawaii Elections Guide 2016

Only 8 percent are comfortable with increasing only property taxes, although 24 percent preferred equal increases in both taxes.

Finally, the poll asked whether keeping rail costs low was more important than having a more effective but also more expensive rail system.

One-third (33 percent) said keep costs low, one-fifth (21 percent) sided with effectiveness and 37 percent said leaders should “try to strike a balance.”

Honolulu rail is funded by the GET surcharge, a third of which is paid by visitors statewide and about 20 percent on Oahu, and by federal money.

Coming Friday: How’s Barack Obama doing? How’s David Ige doing? And are we headed in the right direction?

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