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City’s Handi-Van meeting draws capacity crowd

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A meeting held by Honolulu transportation officials on Monday to discuss a new scheduling system that aims to provide Handi-Van riders with more precise pickup times was attended by scores of people using canes, walkers and wheelchairs, filling the meeting room to capacity.

Rather than focusing on the new system, which is set to take effect Oct. 16, several people in attendance focused on long waits tied to the current system, said Julia Belisario, who represents a group with disabilities.

“During peak rush hour they can have a one, two, three-hour wait,” Belisario said after the meeting held in a training room at the Handi-Van facility near Middle Street.

Currently, only hourly pickups are offered. City Transportation Services Director Michael Formby has said under the new system, if a rider wants a 10 a.m. pickup time, and that time isn’t available, the rider may ask for 9:30, 9:45, 10:30 or 10:45 a.m. A reservationist will see how many vans and spaces are available and check the locations of the vans.

Another meeting about the new system is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at conference room B at Kapolei Hale.

The Handi-Van service has about 3,600 riders on a weekday. Recently, the city received some 99 Handi-Van vehicles to replace an aging fleet of 162.

Mark Garrity, the deputy director of the city’s Department of Transportation Services, said the new system’s software has been used successfully in other cities, including Sacramento. 

“What it’s going to do is to allow us to squeeze more trips out of the system,” he said. 

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