Former Santa Clara VTA chief hired to oversee Honolulu rail project

Posted on July 31, 2015

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation

HONOLULU — Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that he has former Santa Clara VTA chief Michael Burns to assist the city with oversight of its rail project.

Burns will be responsible for overseeing the rail project’s finances, as well as the functioning of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board. He was hired on a one year contract at a cost of $95,000, and will issue a public report every three months, KITV4 News reported.

“We brought Michael Burns on board because rail is our largest public works project in the history of the state, and we need to ensure to the public that public funds are spent responsibly,” said Mayor Caldwell.  “With a project this size, it’s always good to have checks and balances in place.  Those of us who have worked extensively on rail are very close to it, and I know that a fresh set of eyes to review and provide oversight will be beneficial to the City, HART, and the City Council.”

Burns has 40 years of experience as a transportation professional, including 15 years at the CEO level at San Francisco MTA and Santa Clara VTA.  He has experience with other rail construction projects including maintenance facilities, track, structures, and signal, power, and communications systems implementation. His has worked on rail transit operating and management projects in Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, and Santa Clara.

Michael’s extensive rail project experience includes two Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) projects in California: the extension of the BART System to San Jose and the Third Street Light Rail and Central Subway Project in San Francisco.  Honolulu’s rail system is partially funded by a FFGA.

Burns is currently working as an Independent Consultant with engagements in the San Francisco Bay area on the Electronic fare card (Clipper) and for Caltrain assisting with their coordination with the California High Speed Rail project.

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