The city is finally starting to tackle one of the most frequently asked questions about Honolulu’s future rail system: How much will it cost to ride?

The public can offer its input on what those fares should be at two upcoming meetings of the city rate commission. That volunteer body, formed about two years ago, gives its recommendations on transit fares to the Honolulu City Council, which ultimately sets the price.

A press release out Thursday says those meetings will take place Aug. 13 and Sept. 10, both from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Mission Memorial Building, which is next to Honolulu Hale.

The commission is further accepting written testimony, which can be sent to Howard “Puni” Chee at the following email address:, the release stated.

HART rail guideway car photo op Farrington Hwy Waipahu Sugar Mill train. 30 may 2017
Workers test a driverless train for Honolulu’s future rail transit system in Waipahu. The city is set to explore fares at two meetings in the coming weeks. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The commission is looking to explore a number of different issues, including whether the fares should be the same as TheBus, whether they should be flat fees or distance-based and whether service should be free when the system launches.

Commissioners will also discuss what fares should be during the first interim service period, which is expected to last about two years until service might run as far as Middle Street.

The commission’s 2018 annual report stated that it plans to discuss rail fares this year after having spent most of last year hashing out recommendations to raise fares for TheBus and Handi-Van riders.

“We expect to devote considerable time and effort into developing a package of policy guidance and rate particulars, including inter-modal transfers,” the report stated.

Once the commission is done, DTS and the mayor’s office can make their own recommendations.

As of March the City Council was still weighing the latest proposed fare increases under 2018’s Bill 77, although progress appears to have stalled on that front.

City officials are testing the “Holo” smart card, which aims to give passengers another fare option for both bus and rail.

Something to consider...

Civil Beat is a small, independent newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.

The truth is that less than 2% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.

Will you consider making a tax-deductible gift today?

About the Author