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City restoring TheBus service in some areas

Published On: Feb 27 2013 11:13:24 AM HST
Updated On: Feb 27 2013 08:43:34 PM HST

Eight months of frustration are about to end for lots of city bus riders.

HONOLULU -

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Transportation Services Director Michael Formby, and Oahu Transportation Services President/CEO Roger Morton announced Wednesday a series of improvements to TheBus service which will begin next month.

“The changes to TheBus routes and frequencies last year produced mixed results,” said Caldwell.  “There were some positives, including service on Kapahulu Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard, and UH-Manoa to KCC.  But longer wait times between buses and overcrowding affected riders across the island.  Some locations became difficult to reach at all, especially remote locations late at night and early in the morning."

The city plans to to reverse the cuts last June that caused the greatest hardship while keeping the positive changes.

Next month, the city will fix two routes needed by TheBus riders on the Leeward Coast and in town.  Then, officials will roll out more improvements in May on the windward side, along School Street, in East Honolulu, Wakiki, and Manoa, while improving UH Manoa service before the new school year in August.

Donald Au, a Manoa resident who gathered more than 600 signatures last year in a petition complaining about cuts to bus service, was overjoyed that Route 5 will be enhanced starting in May. 

"That's a terrific deal," Au told KITV4. "I never thought we would get it back. I'm going to let all my friends know when I go back on the bus this afternoon; they're going to be happy too."

Improvements to the following routes will go into effect on March 23:

  • CountryExpress Route C (Makaha to Kapolei to Ala Moana Center)
    • Restore weekend and holiday service frequencies from every 60 minutes under the cuts to every 30 minutes. Route 14 (St. Louis Heights via Waialae Ave to Maunalani Heights)
  • Route 14 (St. Louis Heights via Waialae Ave to Maunalani Heights)
    • Restore weekday peak service from St. Louis to Maunalani via Waialae from every 108 minutes to every 40 minutes; more frequent transfers. 
    • Restore original Diamond Head route for weekday off-peak and weekend service; restore frequencies from 108 minutes to 60 minutes.

Improvements to the following routes will go into effect in May:

  • CountryExpress Route C (Makaha to Kapolei to Ala Moana Center)
    • Restore weekday mid-day service from every 45 minutes to every 30 minutesRoute 55 (Ala Moana Center via Kaneohe to Haleiwa)
  •  Route 55 (Ala Moana Center via Kaneohe to Haleiwa)
    • Improve mid-day service frequencies from every 60 minutes to every 45 minutes
  • Route 1L (Kalihi to Hawaii Kai)
    • Extend Route 1L to provide limited-stop service along the School Street corridor previously served by Route B
  • Route 2L (Kalihi to Waikiki)
    • Add additional weekday peak hour trips
  • Route 5 (Manoa to Ala Moana Center)
    • Improve morning peak hour frequencies from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes

Improvement to the following route will take place in August:

  • Route 13 (Liliha via Waikiki to UH-M?noa)
    • Restore service frequency to from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes

Click here to see a chart of TheBus service improvements.

The improvements previously implemented in December 2012 cost approximately $600,000 in FY2013. The 2013 changes announced on Wednesday will cost approximately $3.5 million in FY2014.

Caldwell says money for bus improvements in the current fiscal year will come from two provisional accounts, or money the city sets aside for such things as salaries and fuel.

Meanwhile, TheBus still faces several hurdles in the coming months. Among them, rising fuel prices and a 5-year contract with bus drivers that expires June 30.

About 1,450 bus and Handivan operators with Oahu Transportation Services are represented by Hawaii Teamsters Local 996.  Union president Ron Kozuma is currently traveling outside of Hawaii and was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

The operating budget for TheBus for the current fiscal year is $180,736,034, which includes both county and federal funds. In fiscal year 2012, the cost to operate the system was $180,740,959.

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