The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) has been recognized as a “Bronze-Level Signatory” for its commitment to sustainability by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). APTA is the nation’s leading advocacy group for the advancement of public transportation, and it recognizes transit organizations who pledge to implement processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social, and economic sustainability. APTA introduced its sustainability program in 2009 and has recognized 38 of its 133 signatory members to date.
“Consideration of the sustainability and resiliency aspects of our transit project is absolutely critical to our community,” noted Executive Director and CEO Andrew Robbins. “This is one area in which the HART Board of Directors and I wanted HART to improve. There is still more we can do, but I am encouraged that we are being nationally recognized for our actions in this area.”
This recognition follows the adoption of an agency-wide sustainability policy by the HART Board of Directors in March 2018. The Board directed HART to “incorporate sustainability and resiliency into the planning, design, and construction of the fixed guideway system in coordination with the Department of Transportation Services and consultation with the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency.”
Among the sustainability achievements and commitments recognized by APTA was HART’s work to integrate the Native Hawaiian host culture—one which has deep roots in the principles of sustainability. HART convened a working group of Native Hawaiian language experts, elders, community leaders, educators and cultural practitioners to develop authentic and culturally appropriate station names that will help to perpetuate the traditions, culture, and history of Hawaii.
“One of our studies by Kumu Pono Associates includes a quote that reads ‘…when all else is lost, it is enough to speak the names and pass on the knowledge of place…,’” noted HART Cultural Planner Kawika Farm. “Restoring forgotten place names through our rail stations plants the seeds for future collaborative efforts to perpetuate and sustain the history of Hawaii’s root culture.” The working group proposed names for the first nine rail stations that were adopted by the HART Board in February 2018.
Other elements of HART’s sustainability program include a commitment to develop an environmental management system, as well as a longer-term stretch goal to create a Sustainable Mobility Lab to develop sustainability initiatives through partnerships with the community. HART Sustainability Planner Benjamin Trevino explained, “The Sustainable Mobility Lab is about fully realizing the community benefits of rail in a collaborative manner. We’re building an infrastructure that can move the community quickly, reliably, and is also powered by electricity. Let’s work together to build it in such a way that meets our needs for both today and tomorrow.”
Executive Director Robbins also remarked that, “Community partnerships—whether a Public-Private Partnership for project construction, working with the Hawaiian community to recognize culturally significant places and names, or reaching out to individuals and organizations to understand what a sustainable mobility system will look like—is where many of our project’s best opportunities will come from.”
APTA will formally present HART with a Certificate of Recognition at its 2018 Sustainability and Multimodal Planning Workshop on July 31 in Vancouver, Canada.