Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Bombardier exec to head Honolulu transit

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Construction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in progress in Waipahu along Farrington Highway near Fort Weaver Road in 2015. Construction for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project in progress in Waipahu along Farrington Highway near Fort Weaver Road in 2015. Musashi1600 photo via Wikiepdia.

Former Bombardier Transportation executive Andrew Robbins has been named executive director and chief executive of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

The agency’s board voted to hire Robbins August 7, to oversee construction of the troubled $10-billion Oahu rail transit project. Robbins starts Sept. 5.

Robbins is HART’s first permanent executive director and CEO since Dan Grabauskas resigned in August, 2016. K.N. Murthy has been serving as interim executive director since late October.

“I fully realize the challenges that lie ahead for this project and the community concerns that come along with them,” Robbins said in a statement. “Having previously been involved with this project, I also believe strongly in its merits. Residents, visitors and future generations will not only benefit from this project but will also view it as an integral part of Honolulu’s transportation infrastructure.”

Robbins began his career with Bombardier in 1980 and worked on its bid to build the Honolulu transit cars. He most recently served as senior director and head of automated transit systems business development. Robbins was spokesman when the company lost an appeal of its disqualification in the bid for the Honolulu project’s $1.4-billion core systems contract in 2011, according to local reports.

The total cost of the 20-mile elevated rail project doubled, to around $10 billion, from initial estimates of $5.26 billion in 2012. The Honolulu City Council plans to issue $350 million in bonds this month, when HART said it would run out of money.

The state Legislature expects to agree to a funding deal to complete the project in a special session Aug. 28-Sept. 1.