Like many of you I was excited when I was approached about the idea of the inter-island rail system. Having a fast and affordable way to travel over and between Maui and Lanai seemed like a great plan. The traffic from VeilCorp employee’s alone would have paid for the project within 15 years according to our projections so I did not hesitate to push for the bond issue. There was even talk of expanding the line to cover all the islands. As we all now know the project has been put on hold weeks before it was set to make its first run and VeilCorp has left us holding the bag.
As your mayor I felt it was important that I explained to you what happened, what my office plans to do next, and how I plan on making VeilCorp accountable for their part in this fiasco.
Almost 4 years ago the idea for the rail system was brought up in a meeting we had with a VeilCorp development team. In addition to serving the needs of the local community and tourists, the system would be used by the employees working at the power plant and the veil station. It was agreed that we would come up with most of the capital and build the first lines here and one connecting to Lanai. VeilCorp agreed to give us all the revenue until the bond was paid off and a share going forward. Staffing and maintenance would be our responsibility with VeilCorp footing the energy bill.
Almost immediately the plan started going off track. The site VeilCorp wanted was the old Methodist church. There were numerous concerns about the environmental impact of building lines through the preservation zone and rumors about outside labor being brought in. I worked tirelessly to investigate the rumors and allay any fears about construction. Unfortunately some of those fears have turned out to be true despite my best efforts.
Now that Gateway technology has been made legal for commercial and travel purposes worldwide, VeilCorp says they are no longer interested in the rail project. They now plan on using the Gateway to transport their workforce through a number of veil stations, and not the train system. They have effectively cut out the majority of our customers and revenue. My office doesn’t see a way forward economically at this point and have ordered all operations halted immediately.
We are exploring all legal solutions and I filed formal complaints with all applicable federal agencies. All of these avenues will take years however, and many of you can’t afford to wait that long. We have been in contact with a number of organizations interested in purchasing the station, including a major biotech firm. We have also considered converting the building into government offices but I’m hesitant to sink more money into this project. In the short-term we will be converting the station into a community center and continue to investigate any and all options available to us.
I know that this is not the news that many of you wanted to hear but I’ve always strived to be open and honest with you even when the news is not good. Rest assured that we are working tirelessly to make the best of our current situation and my press office will be giving regular weekly updates. Thank you for your continued support and understanding.