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Schatz Praises Major News on Rail

Obama's Transportation Nominee Confirmed Schatz Request For $250 Million in Rail Funding Approved

WASHINGTON – Today, Appropriations Committees in both chambers approved $250 million for Honolulu’s rail project, the amount requested by Senator Schatz and his Senate colleagues.  The Senate also confirmed Anthony Foxx as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation. In meetings with Senator Schatz, Foxx fully committed to federal funds for Honolulu's rail project.

“The confirmation of Secretary Foxx and the approval of $250 million for the Honolulu rail project is good news all around for our rail transit system. Since I arrived to the U.S. Senate, one of my top priorities has been to ensure full federal funding for Honolulu rail transit.  I am pleased to announce a key hurdle was cleared today when both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved a spending bill that will fully fund Honolulu rail transit in 2014.  In addition, we have a Transportation Secretary who has assured me that he is fully committed to Honolulu’s rail project.  His confirmation keeps rail on track and moving forward,” said Senator Brian Schatz.

“As a member of the Transportation Committee, I have worked with the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Department of Transportation Secretary, Federal Transit Administration Administrator, and state officials to secure commitments to this funding, and I am happy with the progress we have made today. Honolulu made an important decision to build rail transit, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that this transit system receives full federal funding in order to move forward.  I have the commitment of the Obama administration that they will do everything in their power to ensure Honolulu rail has the federal funds promised in order to provide the people of Hawaii more transportation choices and protect the environment.”

Senator Schatz was selected to serve on the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation to fight for Hawaii’s transportation infrastructure.  Earlier this year, he met with Peter Rogoff, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration and spoke to former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to secure their continued support for Honolulu rail transit and urge them to minimize the impacts of sequestration on the project.  As a member of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over Transportation Secretary nominees, Schatz secured the Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s support for the project both in writing and in conversations with him during his Senate confirmation process this year.  Senator Schatz also signed a letter with seven U.S. Senators asking the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund the 2014 budget of the FTA New Starts program. 

Honolulu rail transit will be a 20-mile long system that runs from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center with a connection to Honolulu International Airport.  The 21 stations in the system are expected to carry 116,300 riders by 2030.  In 2012, the U. S. DOT signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement that committed the federal government to contributing $1.55 billion for the construction of Honolulu's rail project.  President Obama’s fiscal year 2014 budget includes $250 million for the Honolulu rail transit project.  Rail transit will provide a fast, safe, reliable alternative to driving in traffic congestion.  The rail system will eliminate tens of thousands of car trips every day from Oahu's busy roads.  A new transportation alternative means less auto pollution, a reduced need for new highways, and less dependence on imported oil. Rail transit will be electrically powered, and with Hawaii moving toward the goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030, the trains will get greener as the percentage of renewable energy produced increases.

The Surface Transportation subcommittee has broad oversight of the Department of Transportation.  Its jurisdiction includes safety, security, and infrastructure development related to both freight and passenger transportation.