City restoring TheBus service in some areas

Improvements start in March

 UPDATED 8:43 PM HST Feb 27, 2013

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:

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

Improvement to the following route will take place in August:

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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