ZipMobile goes on the fritz, chokes H-1
The ZipMobile broke down for at least the third time in as many years Monday, snarling the early- morning town-bound traffic on the H-1 freeway.
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The ZipMobile broke down for at least the third time in as many years Monday, snarling the early-
morning town-bound traffic on the H-1 freeway.
State officials said a hydraulic leak caused the latest malfunction, which delayed the H-1 freeway’s ZipperLane’s full opening by more than an hour. The ZipMobile stalled at about
4 a.m. near the Sears Distribution Center as it deployed the concrete barriers, according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara.
The vehicle’s operators tried to fix the leak themselves for an unspecified length of time before eventually calling a specialist contracted by the DOT to make the repairs, Sakahara said. One of the ZipperLane’s entrances then opened at about 6:30 a.m. instead of their normal
5:30 a.m. start, he added, leading to heavier-than-normal congestion.
All of the entrances were open by about 6:50 a.m., Sakahara said.
Since Dec. 30, 2014, the state’s two aging ZipMobiles, which thousands of west-side commuters rely on each workday, has also endured an electrical fire, locked-up brakes and a computer malfunction.
That last incident led to an epic March 31, 2015, “carmageddon” incident in which widespread gridlock enveloped thousands of drivers until a specialist could arrive from the mainland to fix the ZipMobile computers.
In January 2014 commuters also faced lengthy delays when the ZipMobile’s brakes locked up.
The ZipMobile are now 18 years old, and the vehicles are designed to operate for about 20 years, Sakahara said. After the March 2015 jam, DOT officials opted to refurbish the ZipMobiles with new engines and other new parts aimed at lengthening the vehicles’ lives for at least another five years instead of buying brand-new ones, Sakahara said.
The overhaul cost some $650,000 total, versus spending $4 million to
$6 million on two brand-new ZipMobiles, according to Sakahara. As part of the overhaul, local crews are now trained to fix the software problems that caused so much hardship across Oahu in the 2015 breakdown, he added.
The DOT, Sakahara said, will update its ZipMobile protocol following Monday’s incident. In the event of future breakdowns, the agency will have ZipMobile drivers call for help from specialists first before they try to fix the problem on their own.