71% majority of O‘ahu residents favor completing Rail Transit all the way to Ala Moana

September 5, 2017

"Support for rail strong across the entire island."

The latest and largest poll of O‘ahu residents shows a clear and continued climb in support for the completion of the full 20-mile, 21-station transit system, as well as acceptance of the GET surcharge to pay for construction of the project.

One of the most dramatic findings is the breadth and depth of support, with a majority of support in every council district across the island and 87% of those favoring completion saying it’s important to finish the project.

Support is also high regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, household income or size, years of residency in Hawai‘i or union membership.

The poll was commissioned by Laborers International Union of North America Local 368 and Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 630 to measure the opinions of the people of Oahu about completion of the Honolulu Rail Project, their reasons for support or concern, the best ways to fund construction and how the Legislature should proceed. In a statement the unions said “We believe it critical that the public and our legislators consider ‘the voice of the people’ in the discussion about the future of this vital community infrastructure.”

923 Oahu residents were polled in June, following the close of the 2017 legislative session. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.27%.

Highlights of the findings include:


  • Total support for finishing rail all as planned all the way to Ala Moana is a record-high 71%.
  • A strong majority – 61% to 77% – in every Oahu council district support full completion of rail.
  • Support is strong for both the districts on rail route (Districts 1,6,7,8,9) and those off the rail route (Districts 2,3,4,5): 71%.
  • Even a majority (53%) of non-rail riders backed completion to Ala Moana Center, and among potential riders support reached 90%.
  • 87% of supporters think it’s important to complete the project, with 62% calling it “very important.”
  • Reasons for feeling it’s important to complete the project as planed to Ala Moana include:
  • Needing a reliable alternative to H-1 for travel to/from West Oahu (86% agree)
  • If not completed, Honolulu will have to pay federal government back $750 million and lose $800 million more (75% agree)
  • If we stop at Middle Street there will not be enough paying riders to support the cost of operating the trains (72% agree)
  • Money spent on rail stays on Oahu and strengthens the local economy (60% agree)
  • If rail is stopped, thousands of workers will lose their jobs (59% agree)
  • Helping to reduce traffic congestion by taking many cars off the road (56% agree)
  • With the project already half-completed and $6+ billion already committed, it would be wasteful not to complete and get the benefits it delivers (55% agree)
  • Among the minority who don’t support the full route, more than half think it should stop at Middle Street and the minority think the entire route should be scrapped.


  • In commenting on the current collection of the ½ percent GET surcharge, 47% call it “not noticeable at all”, and 31% “not very noticeable.”
  • Of the 10% who call the GET surcharge “very noticeable”, most are those who already oppose the rail project’s completion.
  • 62% “agree” that a ten-year extension of the GET surcharge is a good way to bridge the budget shortfall. 30% “strongly” agree.
  • 51% “agree” that an increase in the TAT hotel room tax is a good way to bridge the budget shortfall. 22% “strongly agree.”
  • But 82% are opposed to an increase in Real Property Tax or city fees to bridge rail’s budget shortfall. 69% “strongly disagree.”
  • Between the two bills being considered at the end of the legislative session to fund the project, 57% preferred the Senate version, which was to extend the ½ percent GET surcharge.
  • Only 19% preferred the House version, which also included the TAT room tax but did not fully fund completion of the project.


  • 48% said that they expect to ride the rail system when it is complete, which is higher than in past surveys.
  • 57% expected that someone in their family household would ride the rail.

You can download the survey summary here: