Another round of TheBus route alterations will occur in August after thirteen routes were cut or changed on June 3. The Department of Transportation Services is evaluating the effectiveness of the new routes, but there remains disagreement about the changes.
The altered bus routes include Route 13, which will allow travel from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to Waikīkī without connections, and the blending of Route 24 with Route 18, connecting Kapi‘olani Community College and UH Mānoa.
“There will be a way to get directly between KCC and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa,” DTS Director Wayne Yoshioka said. “I know some students sometimes take classes at both, so this provides a direct connection between the two.”
There was some controversy earlier in the year, when Route 4, which many UH Mānoa students used to get from Waikīkī to the campus, was altered to terminate at McCully/Kalākaua instead of continuing into Waikīkī. But Yoshioka said some are unaware that they can take the 4 and then transfer.
“Generally speaking, except for maybe one or two that still wanted the 4 to go in, once they found out they had a connection to Waikīkī, that was enough,” Yoshioka said.
Although Yoshioka said the department is constantly re-evaluating the effectiveness of the cuts, some do not believe enough is being done.
City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said many people have to wait for buses and are being inconvenienced.
“I have a lot of calls from people who are waiting over an hour,” Kobayashi said. “In Mānoa, there is no extra bus service during rush hour time. That means if you miss the bus or if it’s late for some reason, sometimes you have to wait another hour. And then students will be late for school, and people will be late for work. It’s not a good situation.”
Civil and environmental engineering professor Panos Prevedouros said he does not think that the administration prepared for the increased expenses of the bus system.
“The city claims that it cannot afford the rising bills for diesel fuel. It also claims that some bus routes are unproductive,” Prevedouros said in an email. “They are wrong on both counts. They failed to budget properly for fuel costs. Bus is a public service to all neighborhoods and all residents. Instead, the city is using public money to compete with private bus providers in the lucrative Waikīkī and tourist market.”
Kobayashi said the council would have found money in the budget if it had known about the need before the budget was passed.
“I think they anticipate they’ll have to spend $7 million more because of diesel fuel, so we said if they had told us earlier before the budget passed, we would’ve tried to find $7 million and made cuts in other areas so that the changes to the bus schedules would not have to be done,” Kobayashi said.
Prevedouros said that the changes to the bus routes would cause students to either become more dependent on cars or have longer travel times if they continue to take the bus.
“This is public transportation, so we’re supposed to make it accessible and convenient for people,” Kobayashi said. “We had the best bus system in the nation – we’ve always gotten awards for our bus service – and to cut back this way is not good.”
But Yoshioka explained, “We make the changes because we think this is a way to increase efficiency and it’ll save us some money, but we are not going to do that at the expense of somebody not being able to get somewhere. If for some reason we cause a situation that we did not foresee, we will certainly go back and readjust.”
Yoshioka encourages feedback from the community. “If we start our roll-out in August, as they use our changed system, if there are any issues, please don’t hesitate to let us know,” Yoshioka said. “But again, please be specific because then we can help you.”
To make a suggestion or voice a complaint to the Department of Transportation Services, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8365 during business hours.