Officials monitoring bus use during first week of school

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Aug 01 2012 07:18:00 PM HST

Many families scramble to arrange for other ways for their children to get to class after the DOE cut about a hundred bus routes. The city steps in to ease the transition by offering to add buses.

HONOLULU -

The Department of Education unexpectedly cut about a hundred public school bus routes last month.

That sent many families scrambling to arrange for other ways for their children to get to class this week.

To ease the transition, the city stepped in offering to add buses where it could.

So when thousands of students returned to campus Monday, no one was sure what to expect.

The new man in charge of student transportation, who has only been on the job a month, acknowledged the news caught many parents by surprise.

"This was kind of an abrupt set of circumstances with this school year,” said Asst. Superintendent Ray L’Heureux.

But L'Heureux isn’t the only one watching closely this week.

The city added more buses in the Kapolei, Mililani, Ewa, Waipahu and Pearl City areas anticipating higher ridership which has materialized in some areas, but not others.

"We are watching the crowding on the buses. and certainly we are seeing more students on the buses and we didn't add service to all the areas, so we are watching all of our buses to see which ones are picking up loads that are too heavy and where we should adjust," said City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka.

The DOE said it expects it may be about a month before it has a good handle on
how much of an issue the school bus cuts will be.

"Some parents are still perhaps are still driving their kids to school, but we've got to give it a month before we can look at it analytically. Do we have the right ridership, the right routes and the right spots?" said L’Heureux.

L'Heureux said the DOE is fielding complaints from Mililani, Halawa Heights, and Aeia about the lack of service.

"Aiea is difficult because some of our routes don’t exactly service those areas that need servicing directly. The Federal Transportation Administration rules directly prohibits us from directly servicing the schools, because we are not supposed to compete with public school buses, so we are limited to altering frequency of the ones that we already have in place," Yoshioka said.

The city expects to tweak its schedule as private school and university students head back to class later this month.

The DOE said it continues to work to find a long term solution to its transportation woes.

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