HART seeks to fill board of directors seat

News Report
Alex Kekauoha

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) is looking to fill a vacancy on its board of directors left by Robert “Bobby” Bunda, who stepped down in May. In a press release HART Board Chairman Ivan Lui-Kwan said, “We are looking for an individual who recognizes the importance of public transportation, who supports rail transit and who has a passion for public service.”

Bunda is a former state legislator who served on the board of directors since September 2011. Appointed in 2013 to serve a five-year term, Bunda ended it early to spend more time with his family. His replacement’s term will expire June 30, 2018. The vacancy comes just one month after Mayor Caldwell reappointed Vice-Chair Don Horner to a second term. Horner, who began serving a four-year term in the summer of 2011, will continue serving until 2020.

The next board member will have plenty on their plate. Back in 2011, when the board was first established, few expected the rail project to face so many challenges. Four years later, rail has been plagued by legal problems, delays and disputes between authorities and agencies involved.

But the greatest challenge so far remains the fiscal problems. Cost overruns for the $5.2 billion project are estimated at roughly $1 billion as of now. Where exactly that money is expected to come from is still unclear. Governor Ige recently approved extending the GET surcharge tax another five years. The original half percent surcharge for Oahu residents and businesses was expected to end in 2022 but, when HART’s overall revenues fell short by $30 million, it became clear they would have to find ways to generate more funds. The surcharge is now scheduled to end in 2027, but could be extended again.

HART’s board members are part-time volunteers responsible for instituting policies related to transportation and infrastructure in Honolulu County. A local statute requires that Mayor Caldwell appoint three members to the HART board, the Honolulu City Council appoint three members, the HART Board appoints one member, and there are three automatic appointments from relevant city and state departments.

Interested applicants can apply here.