A Poem For Honolulu Rail - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Bill Riddle

Bill Riddle is an avid sailor and Oahu resident. He is the author of “Dead Downwind,” the story of the first attempt to fly to Hawaii, an event that takes place two years before Charles Lindbergh’s famous Atlantic crossing.

The outlook wasn’t brilliant to build the rail that day,
Four point three billion, that taxpayers had to pay.
But when the contracts added up; the numbers weren’t the same,
And a pall-like silence fell upon future patrons of the train.

A straggling few stood up to shout. While all the rest…
Clung to the hope that our officials knew the best.
They thought, “If only Federal funds could take a whack at that,
We’d put up even money now, with the Treasury so fat.”

But time precluded caution; thence politicians state,
“We’ve put in too much effort. We must increase the stake.”
So upon the poor taxpayers, a grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of ever stopping that!

The spending never wavered to the wonderment of all,
And concrete poured like water in attempt to reach the Mall.
And when the dust had lifted, and they saw what had occurred,
… a Stonehenge monster stood; too large to ever curb.

Soon then they heard more news, ‘twas a poker player’s tell,
“Rail costs might again o’errun the money in the well.”
A few protested weakly at the scary sound of that,
But they were told to “Shush,” and once more pass the hat.

Again billion dollar figures were tossed into the air.
As if ‘twern’t real money, and no one had a care.
The numbers grew and grew, like math’matics gone to hell.
The figures were so large they cast hypnotic spell.

But from the trodden populous, there emerged a muffled roar,
Like the beating winter waves upon the Pipeline shore.
“Stop it! Stop the spending!” plead an e’er despairing core,
Only to be greeted by, “… but just a couple billion more!!!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered “Fraud!”
But a scornful threat to cut Fed funds, and the taxpayers were awed.
Residents felt the burden, and they felt their budgets strain;
And worried if they’d ever get to ride this doggone train.

Once more the billions increased, to the wonderment of all.
The numbers now so large that EACH TAXPAYER could call
For a shiny new stretch limo for two hours every day,
To go to work in style, and read the paper on the way.

And while commuting home, whilst in the zipper lane,
A cold beer in their hand, could watch a baseball game.
And EACH could ride seven days-a-week for thirty years and more,
But even then they still wouldn’t reach light rail’s total score.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
But here in Honolulu the taxpayers are so blue,
Because amazing as it seems, this limo ride is true!

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About the Author

Bill Riddle

Bill Riddle is an avid sailor and Oahu resident. He is the author of “Dead Downwind,” the story of the first attempt to fly to Hawaii, an event that takes place two years before Charles Lindbergh’s famous Atlantic crossing.


Latest Comments (0)

Bravo, well said.

wailani1961 · 1 month ago

I find it so interesting the things that come to people's mind when it comes to this RAIL like " When the RAIL derails and shows just how much was wasted on this project that was suppose to be nostalgic and ends up being demolished, who's going to accept the blame for something so lame . " It's not perfect but it's a last minute throw together.

unclebob60 · 1 month ago

The first sentence sums it up perfectly. "4.3 Billion that taxpayers had to pay". The fact that the price has nearly tripled is criminal in itself.

Annoyed · 1 month ago

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