A seamless transportation system that moves people throughout Oahu on city buses and an elevated rail line that has yet to be built. That’s the vision of the two boards that oversee The Bus and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.
On Thursday, the two boards held a joint meeting for the first time ever, passing resolutions that create a working group to examine cost-saving operations, as well as the identification of redundancies and the possibility of a single fare structure.
“The fares, I believe, should be totally the same, whether you ride bus or rail,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who attended the joint meeting. “When they're integrated and work together, the city really thrives.”
HART Executive Director Dan Grabauskas believes buses that currently run on the H1 Freeway could eventually be used elsewhere, since the rail line will cover a 20-mile route from East Kapolei to the Ala Moana Shopping Center.
“They're now going to be able to be redeployed to either serve bus routes that will feed into our 21 stations, or go to other parts of the island to serve underserved areas,” Grabauskas told reporters.
Bus riders like Barbra Armentrout will be watching the working group’s progress closely. Although Armentrout supports the concept of integrating The Bus with rail, she believes the City Council should create a citizens advisory group to provide input to OTA and HART.
“People live in Hawaii Kai, people live in Kailua, people live in Ewa Beach and Makaha,” said Armentrout. “We need to see that input on their (bus) rides and know what's happening.”
Councilman Breene Harimoto has floated the idea of placing bus operations under HART through a charter amendment, but Caldwell believes with the initial segment of rail slated to open in 2017, there’s still plenty of time to study the issue.
“I'm going to leave that up to the fact finders first and see what they come up with,” said the mayor.
The newly created OTS-HART working group will issue reports on its progress every three months, with a final report due at the end of 2014.