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Riders to pay higher fares

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    Price increases for monthly and annual passes and one-way cash fares for TheBus take effect next week.
    Bus ridership projections for fiscal year 2010 are down, reflecting worker layoffs amid the recession.

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.


  Old fee Current fee New fee
  (2003) (July 1, 2009) (July 1, 2010)
Adult monthly bus pass $40 $50 $60
Youth monthly bus pass $20 $25 $30
One-way adult cash fare $2 $2.25 $2.50
One-way youth cash fare $1 $1 $1.25
Adult annual pass $440 $550 $660
Youth annual pass $220 $275 $330

Source: City and County of Honolulu



Revenue and passenger figures for TheBus from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2010:

  FY 2006 FY2007 FY2008 FY2009 * FY2010
Annual passenger revenue $41,531,437 $41,742,353 $41,984,133 $42,454,922 $45,388,465
Annual ridership 70,384,355 71,749,456 69,759,954 77,329,670 73,981,342
Average weekday ridership 214,842 221,275 212,194 237,512 233,065

*Statistics for FY2010 are projected figures. The current fiscal year ends Wednesday.

Source: Department of Transportation Services

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