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City hastens frequency of buses

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  • looked at the new bus schedule Monday as students and other supervisors stood while waiting for TheBus Route 14 along Kahala Avenue.

The city this week is restoring more bus service, part of a plan Mayor Kirk Caldwell and transit officials rolled out earlier this year to reverse many of last year’s widely unpopular cuts in TheBus routes.

The latest wave of weekday route restorations takes effect today, according to a city news release. (Weekend changes started Sunday.) The latest upgrades are:

» CountryExpress Route C (Makaha to Kapolei to Ala Moana Center) will offer more frequent weekday midday service, to a bus passing every 30 minutes from every 45 minutes.

» Route 55 (Ala Moana Center to Kaneohe to Haleiwa) will provide more frequent midday service, to every 45 minutes from every 60 minutes.

» Route 1L (Kalihi to Hawaii Kai) will extend to provide passengers some service along the busiest parts of the School Street corridor, helping to replace part of the service lost when Route B was eliminated. City officials hope the move will provide Kalihi residents with faster runs to downtown and the McCully-Moiliili and Kaimuki neighborhoods.

» Route 2L (Kalihi to Waikiki) will add more weekday trips during peak hours.

» Route 5 (Manoa to Ala Moana Center) will have service restored during morning peak hours, to every 30 minutes from every hour.

The changes complement previous upgrades to Routes C and 14 that took place in March. In August, Route 13 will also offer more frequent trips, to every 15 minutes from every 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bus riders and city officials say they are pushing to restore additional service. According to City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, some $1.06 million has been included in the latest fiscal 2014 budget proposal to restore Route E — which many residents of Ewa Beach, Wai­­pahu and Wai­­kele had relied on to arrive at Ala Moana Center and Waikiki. However, the route was trimmed last year and now ends downtown.

In March, after the city restored some service to Route 14 (St. Louis Heights to Diamond Head), some riders cried foul. The service there, they said, remained limited because the city also expanded Route 14 peak hours to include the weekends and holidays, thus reducing service on those days.

On Monday, Barbra Armentrout, one of several bus advocates who collected hundreds of signatures in petitions last year against the cuts, said city officials have assured her they are working to resolve the problems with Route 14.

The Council and Caldwell have wrangled in recent weeks about whether a balanced budget will be ready for the Council to pass on June 5. Caldwell has warned the Council it will need to cut spending or raise either property taxes or bus fares. Council Budget Chairwoman Anne Koba­ya­shi has countered that none of those actions will be necessary.

About 240,000 passengers on Oahu use TheBus every day. Last year hundreds of them complained after facing longer waits to catch overcrowded buses, creating particular hardship for TheBus’ senior and disabled riders.

Caldwell had pledged to reverse the changes during his mayoral campaign last year, and after he was elected, the Department of Transportation Services began weighing options. They unveiled a restoration plan in February.


Star-Advertiser reporter Gordon Y.K. Pang contributed to this report.

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