Okay, so we’ve worried ourselves out about the staggering cost of the Honolulu transit train, the visual blight of the raised rail line, the probable ridership numbers and the exactly-unknown cost of the 4 a.m. to midnight operation of the 20 four-car trains.
Now, looking at some other cities’ experiences, maybe we should start worrying about the homeless making homes in the employee-less cars.
The photos I’ve included with this story are from New York City, where the Daily News documented the problem we’d better start thinking about.
Yes, our trains will have closed-circuit TV cameras and call buttons for emergencies. But no transit police — no police, period.
New York City recently had to temporarily close 10 of its mass transit stations to clean them up because of a flood of homeless. The Daily News reported that “On any given day in any given corner of the city’s sprawling subway, train cars are filled with people who have nowhere else to go or choose the subways over the shelter system.”
Sure, we can have police meet a car at a station and kick off the homeless squatters. But the homeless are canny. One subway liver in NYC told the newspaper “It’s hell out here. They tried to kick me off but I got different ways to get back on. I agree with them, I get off, get out, and I get on the next train.”
Our trains will not even have a driver. The only roving attendants will be at the stations, not on board.
Probably no problem with the first increment to open (maybe) late this year from Kapolei to Aloha Stadium. But the final segment in 2025 through town to Ala Moana Center — that’s where we’re likely to encounter the homeless.
Am I being too much of a worrywart?