Update: 4:30 p.m.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced this afternoon that weekday service on TheBus will move to a state holiday schedule, effective Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.
The state holiday schedule will replace the regular weekday schedule, while the Saturday and Sunday schedules will run as usual.
Caldwell said he considered TheBus and TheHandi-Van to be core services, along with sewer and water services, and garbage pickup, but that the city would be reducing services to provide it where necessary for essential workers.
Roger Morton, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services, asked the public to use TheBus for essential trips only.
Ridership has dropped from 200,000 a day to 69,000, a 65% drop, according to Morton.
“On April 1, we will still provide 85% of all scheduled trips,” said Morton. “We believe this level of service will provide more than adequate service and also allow social distancing to be practiced on TheBus and vans.”
Watch the press conference below
For drivers, a red line has been established to help passengers maintain six feet of distance from the driver. The seats immediately behind the bus driver are now out of service.
Morton acknowledged that one employee tested positive for COVID-19 but never operated a bus, while another tested negative. Currently, a total of 11 bus operators have been grounded as they wait for results from COVID-19 tests, while another 37 that have returned from the U.S. mainland will need to wait 14 days before they can drive again.
Morton said additional manpower has been added to take care of the enhanced, nightly disinfection of high touch points in the fleet of buses. In addition, starting tonight, TheBus will start a new cleaning process using a spray that gets on all surfaces of the bus, he said.
“We think this is an added measure to provide sanitation for our riders,” he said.
While the result may be a lingering smell of chlorine similar to a swimming pool, he said this is a sign that the buses have been sanitized.
Some other changes include the closure of the bus pass office at Kalihi Center on March 30. City officials said monthly bus passes for April will be honored for both the month of April and May.
Some routes have been added to fill in areas that do not operate on state holidays, and others will also be modified, according to officials.
To get the latest schedule, visit TheBus.org or call 848-5555.
TheHandi-Van, which has experienced a 67% drop in ridership, from about 4,200 to 1,400 trips a day, will also continue to operate.
Riders can contact TheHandi-Van call center at 456-5555 to schedule a ride.
Here is the city’s list of route changes, starting Wednesday:
>> The following routes will not operate on weekdays:
Route 1L – Kalihi- Hawaii Kai (limited stops)
Route 2L – School Street-Wakiki (limited stops)
Routes 83 / 84 / 84A / 85 / 86 / 87 / 90 – Trips will not operate to/from UH Mānoa.
(Riders may use routes A / 4 / 6 / 13 / 18).
>> The following routes do not operate on the state holiday schedule, but will operate weekday schedules:
Route 16 – Moanalua Valley-Kalihi
Route 99 – Kapolei-Central Oahu Express
Route 234 – Kahala Mall-Waialae Nui
Route 235 – Kahala Mall-Waialae Iki
>> The following routes will have modifications made to the state holiday schedules and /or routing:
Route 1 – Will service Hahaione Valley eastbound only, replacing Route 1L service.
Route 52/72 – Route 52 will provide later trips to Whitmore Village to be added to State
Route 73 – Midday service added to the state holiday schedule to service Kuala Street and LCC.
Route 80A – Non-instructional day service will run; one trip in the morning and one p.m. trip.
Route 93 – Two morning trips added to the state holiday schedule at 3:45 a.m. and 4 a.m. to match Weekday schedule.
Route W1 – Two morning trips added to the state holiday schedule at 5:15 a.m. and 5:35 a.m.
TheBus and TheHandi-Van continue to serve the community on Oahu, but officials on March 20 asked that riders limit their bus and van trips to essential travel only. Earlier this month, a new red line was also placed six feet behind the bus operator, and riders are asked to stand behind that line to ensure social distancing.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today, along with Wes Frysztacki, director of the Department of Transportation Services, Jon Nouchi, deputy director of the Department of Transportation Services, Roger Morton, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services and Wayne Kaululaʻau, president of Teamsters Local 996, which represents bus drivers and other employees working for TheBus.
Prior to the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in Hawaii earlier this month, officials had said they were wiping down high touchpoints in its fleet nightly, including grab rails, and requested that anyone feeling sick not take TheBus.
Since then, the number of confirmed cases ballooned from one on March 6 to 106 as of Thursday.