Operating Honolulu’s fleet of more than 500 buses has gotten more expensive, and beginning Thursday, riders will be paying more to help offset fuel and maintenance costs.
Fares on TheBus are about to go up.
While some understand the need to pay more, others are bothered by it.
"It’s ridiculous," said Kaneohe resident Lehua Shiroma, 19, as she sat on a concrete bench at the bus stop at Ala Moana Center yesterday. It’s too expensive to buy a car, and now the bus fares are going up, said Shiroma, who was on her way to meet friends in Waikiki.
The price of annual passes, monthly passes and one-way cash fares for adults and youths will go up next week. Fares for senior citizens and disabled individuals will not.
The increases are the second of a two-step bump in fares that began last July 1. The City Council approved the gradual increase instead of slapping bus riders with a one-time jump.
Wayne Yoshioka, director of the Department of Transportation Services, described the new fares as reasonable.
The increases are necessary to keep up with rising operating expenses for the fleet of 531 city buses, he said. "Things have gotten more expensive and we need to adjust. Fuel is more expensive. Parts are more expensive. Tires are more expensive. Labor is more expensive."
Before 2009 the last time fares increased was in October 2003.
Still, some passengers view the raises as yet another cost to endure in a tough economy.
McKinley High School student Michelle Truong, who uses a monthly pass to get to and from school, said she is concerned about the higher fares because of her family’s tight budget. "My family isn’t that well off with money," said Truong, whose father works as a limousine driver and whose mother at Consolidated Theatres to support her and her two siblings. The 15-year-old student said the increase for the youth monthly pass to $30 from $25 is a lot.
At the bus stop on King Street near the King Kamehameha Statue, Chaminade University student Vanessa Apilado took the increase in stride. "I see how it’s necessary," said Apilado, 27.
Revenue for TheBus has increased to $42.4 million in fiscal year 2009 from $41.5 million in fiscal year 2006.
A spike in annual ridership occurred in fiscal year 2009 at 77,329,670 trips from fiscal year 2008 at 69,759,456 as residents economized with the rise in gas prices. The projected annual ridership for fiscal year 2010, which ends Wednesday, was estimated at 73,981,342, a dip from the previous year and a reflection of more layoffs and the sinking economy, said Yoshioka.
Officials empathize with residents who are struggling financially, yet hope riders understand the need for the increase, Yoshioka said. "We’re trying to keep it to a minimum," he said.
TICKETS TO RIDE
Source: City and County of Honolulu
RIDERSHIP, REVENUE FOR THEBUS
Revenue and passenger figures for TheBus from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2010:
*Statistics for FY2010 are projected figures. The current fiscal year ends Wednesday.
Source: Department of Transportation Services