Maui County officials have promised to begin building proper benches and shelters this year to give bus riders a place to wait that’s protected from the sun, wind and rain.
Virtually none of Maui’s 169 bus stops has benches, the Maui News reported. Five bus stops are to be completed this year and 12 more in the next fiscal year, said Jim Oster, project manager and Transportation Department engineer.
Four more covered bus stops that cost at least $200,000 will be built by the end of the year and will be lighted and wheelchair accessible. They’ll feature bicycle racks, trash and recycling bins and curb cuts to make it safer for the bus to pull over in traffic.
Eight to 10 shelters are to be completed each year until 79 are done, said Transportation Director Jo Anne Johnson Winer. The shelters are to be made of reinforced steel screen mesh with palm fronds and other locally inspired designs. Solar panels on the metal roof will power the lights.
Federal authorizes recently noted the Maui Bus is one of the fastest-growing public transit systems in the country. More than 850,000 passengers rode the bus last year, and that figure is expected to soar to 2 million this year, according to the county.
Long, rural commutes and the cost of driving have contributed to an increase in bus ridership.
Oster said studies have shown that well-designed shelters can increase the number of passengers.