There's a free way to get around Kauai until Christmas
Kauai County is offering free bus rides from December 21 until Christmas. It's an offer that's part of recovery efforts after historic flooding on the island last year. Repairs are also underway.
"We have a few things to wrap up. Black pot comfort station, construction is on-going. For the most part, the major infrastructure fixes on the county end, have been for the most part completed," Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, said.
He hopes the free rides will lead to a boost in the local economy, especially on the North Shore.
"We're trying to do whatever we can to encourage people to go out there and spend some of their money on their holiday shopping," Kawakami said.
KITV4 spoke with some businesses along Kuhio Highway in Hanalei. All of them say they felt a drop in business after the floods, some up to 20 percent. Their hope is for more foot traffic and income during the holidays.
The Kauai Visitors Bureau noticed a boom in visitor's arrival and spending during the Kilauea eruption on Hawaii Island.
"Our numbers could've been much worse around the rest of the island had the volcano not happen. A lot of re-bookings from the island of Hawaii to Kauai," Sue Kanoho, executive director, Kauai Visitors Bureau, said.
Tourism organizations like the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association also believe the small businesses on the island can use the boost. The organization's president and CEO Mufi Hannemann said in a statement: "Timing is spot-on for this great gesture by Mayor Kawakami to make it easier and convenient for Garden Island residents and visitors to do their last minute Christmas shopping."
Aside from increasing tourism, Kawakami says the free rides are also an incentive for people to take public transportation.
"These few days leading up to Christmas are some of the worst traffic days that our island faces. We're trying to encourage people to get out there and use our public transportation and see how great it is," he said.
Right now between seven routes, somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 people take the bus everyday. The free rides cost the county around $5,000. Kawakami says if it works well, the county will consider doing it again on heavy traffic days in the future.
To view a schedule of The Kaua‘i Bus fixed routes click here.