POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 15, 2011
City Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka says the city is not setting a precedent by moving a Kapiolani bus stop because of complaints about a homeless woman who had taken up residence at the shelter near Keeaumoku Street.
The city received complaints from bus riders who didn't like having to wait for the bus near the homeless woman, who has hygiene issues.
Tessie Cadelina, 66, who catches the bus daily to and from work, said Thursday, "I no like sit down if the lady stay there. The smell."
Bus patrons complained to city bus drivers, who relayed it to Oahu Transit Services officials, who conveyed it to city officials, Yoshioka said. The bus stop was moved about two months ago, he said.
"This is an unusual situation," said Yoshioka.
He said the bus shelter was slated for replacement later this year. "We were going to move the stop anyway during construction."
Yoshioka said his department is dealing with such challenges on a case-by-case basis. "What we have here is a situation that we wrestle with constantly," namely, "trying to service our riders" while being compassionate toward the homeless, he said.
In a similar situation on Kaheka Street, the city did not move the bus stop.
"We worked with the person" through the Department of Community Services to help in finding services for the individual, Yoshioka said.
Several bus riders waited Thursday at the relocated bus stop on Kapiolani Boulevard. It was marked by bus signs on a pole about 60 feet from the bus shelter, where the woman was sitting alone.
The Community Services Department will try to help the woman find alternate shelter, said Yoshioka.
Under city laws, "it's not illegal for them to be there," he said.
If unsanitary conditions develop, the city will warn a homeless person that the bus stop will be pressure-washed, and the person moves but often returns.
Some people waiting for the bus Thursday said it wasn't fair to let the woman monopolize the shelter, while others were sympathetic toward her.
"It's kind of pitiful," said Ana Van Arsdell, 74, who said she hopes the woman will get help.
Tara Fung, 27, said she's caught the bus daily in the area for a year now and that the woman has been there as long as she can remember.
"I don't think it will really matter," she said about moving the bus stop — except for one thing: "Since they've moved the bus stop, I've noticed there's more homeless there (at the shelter)."
The shelter, with a built-in concrete bench, is slated for retrofitting to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The city has been experimenting with different seating at bus shelters that discourages sleeping, including benches with dividing rails, concrete stools, and a seat that folds down and snaps back into a vertical position when not in use.
The new shelter will be in the same spot as the current one.