Krishniah Murthy, rail’s former interim executive director who helped guide the troubled transit project through an especially tumultuous time, died on Sunday, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials confirmed Monday.

Murthy was hired in October 2016 to replace HART’s former executive director, Dan Grabauskas, who had left the agency several months earlier when project costs climbed above $8 billion.

During nearly a full year at the helm, Murthy helped secure a multibillion-dollar rescue package for the troubled transit project from the Legislature, helped craft a federally required recovery plan for rail, and instituted modest reforms at HART aimed at better managing construction.

Krishniah Murthy was a key fixture at HART from 2017 through 2019. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Murthy had some 40 years of experience in the transit industry and had most recently been working at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority helping to launch rail lines there when HART’s board hired him to lead the Hawaii agency through a period of transition.

Murthy remained at HART as a senior advisor after Andrew Robbins took over as the permanent executive director in 2017. He stayed on at the agency until June 2019, when he returned to Los Angeles.

No cause of death was available Monday.

“Krishniah will be missed by the entire HART Ohana,” Lori Kahikina, who recently took over as HART’s latest interim director, said in a statement Monday. “It is a very sad day for our industry, and we extend our sincere condolences to his family during this very difficult time.”

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