The traffic in Hawai’i

One of the issues Hawai’i and especially Honolulu is facing is the massive number of cars in the state. The number of cars is increasing, and soon it will match the population number. Honolulu has even been mentioned as the worst city in the country for traffic.

There’s a lot of downsides to this issue. First of all, if you live on Oahu and occasionally go around Honolulu and Waikiki, you have probably noticed, that the traffic is daylong. Previously the traffic was bad a rush times during the day, but the last five to ten years the transport times have increased because of nonstop traffic causing people to waste more time getting from A to B. New research show that this problem causes drivers wasting 58 hours a year sitting in congestion. Also, the constant traffic causes problems with maintaining roads due to the heavy use.  According to Leon James, a University of Hawai’i psychology professor, there’s a correlation between traffic and stress, which means that the increased traffic density can cause more stress. Finally, there is also the more obvious downside to more cars; more pollution. It is stated that people will adapt to anything if we have to, but the question is whether there will be a limit of tolerance that may be exceeded in the process.

So, even though there has been made no study on how many cars and trucks the islands can handle, according to Honolulu Department of Transportation Services, this is an issue that needs to be payed attention to.

There are several ideas for improving this issue. Some of the looser ideas out there are concerning that if there was a higher control regarding rental cars, then it would bring the total number of cars on the street down. Another one is that Hawai’i could implement a “time of the day pricing” for specific roads on the Islands and hope that people would spread out or not drive at that time. These are ideas with no further research behind them. Some of the more serious ideas are the new traffic management agency for Waikiki and the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.

The new traffic management agency regards that The Honolulu City Council recently passed a bill that establishes an association to manage traffic related policies in Waikiki. Included in this plan is for example the opportunity for residents and businesses to set guidelines on various issues as guidelines on vendor delivery times, private transportation providers and a possible permit system for residential street parking. The Waikiki Transportation Management Special Improvement District strives to make the transportation solution the best for the people living in Waikiki as well as the five million visitors a year. The name of this is Bill 64 and it passed the third reading in mid-October and is not yet finally adopted.

Honolulu Rail Transit Project is already under construction in Honolulu County. This is also known as the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project and is an urban rail rapid transit system. The federal contractor who is overseeing the Honolulu rail project has indicated that the price for the project would reach $8.2 billion and the full rail should be operational by the set deadline in 2025. The idea of a mass transit line connecting Honolulu’s urban center with outlying areas was first brought up in the 1960s, but funding for a project was not approved until 2005. The project was delayed and the first construction began in 2011. When finished, the Honolulu Rail Transit Project should have 21 stations and transport people from East Kapolei, through Pearl City, Downtown and Honolulu International Airport, and end at Ala Moana Center. This major route is supposed to decrease the number of cars on the street and hopefully loosen up the constant traffic.  It’s possible to read more about the rail and the process here.


It’s hard to predict the future but as far as now go, it is easy to see, that change has to come. A very current example is today, November 3rd 2017, when President Trump arrived at Oahu. Suddenly a 20-minute drive could easily take three hours because of one highway was shut down for a short period of time. This should absurd considering that Honolulu is a major city.


  1. This is a very noticeable issue! I find it disturbing that there are so many cars here. I hope that they will find a good solution.

  2. I have lived here my entire life and traffic has sadly always been a problem. It’s either right when you are going to work or school or right when you are coming back from work or school. This is a problem that I think will not be able to resolve. There are just too much people on island and it creates way too much traffic. Awesome mature story.

  3. As I live in town and never really have to go with traffic I never really experienced traffic or my version of traffic is very warped. I grew up in Shanghai China so traffic is not new to me. For me I have only seen organized traffic rather than disorganized like it is in China.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *