Three Vehicles in “TheBus” Honolulu Fleet Retire to Maui
By Wendy Osher
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle today announced plans to transfer three retired buses from the City and County of Honolulu to Maui County.
“This is a win-win deal for both the City and County of Honolulu and for Maui County,” said Carlisle in a statement.
The buses will serve to augment Maui’s existing fleet, and serve the growing number of passengers on the Valley Isle, according to Carlisle.
The 40-foot Gillig buses first went into service in 1994. They have the ability to carry a total of 65 passengers each, 45 seated and 20 standing.
Mayor Arakawa said the added capacity will help Maui, which he described as “one of the fastest growing public transit systems in the nation right now.”
Maui Transportation Director Jo Anne Johnson Winer said that if growth continues at the same rate for the rest of the fiscal year, ridership will have increased by more than a half a million passengers from just one year ago.
According to Johnson Winer, there were 2.3 million boardings in FY11. If the ridership continues at it’s current rate of growth, Maui’s seven-year-old bus system will reach the 2.8 million ridership mark for the FY12, which ends in June. Johnson Winer attributed the dramatic increase in large part to an increase in visitor traffic, as well as increase in gas prices.
“We have more passengers waiting at our bus stops every day and no room on our buses,” said Mayor Arakawa. “This transfer from the City and County of Honolulu is helping us to address that problem.”
Mayor Arakawa first approached the Honolulu Mayor Carlisle just before APEC to ask if there were any used vehicles that they could spare. “When we followed up, they were good enough to find us three decent buses that are still in good service shape,” said Johnson Winer.
“We are so short of vehicles,” said Johns on Winer, “what happens is when buses go out for service, you don’t have another bus to go out on the route, and it really creates a problem. We have so few extra buses, that it was creating a real difficult situation, where we had to have Roberts Hawaii run some of our routes,” she said.
The buses are being retired from TheBus to make way for new replacement buses in Honolulu. It is part of TheBus’s fleet management plan that serves to maintain the average age of the Honolulu fleet at a desired target. If they were not transferred to Maui, the buses would be sold at an auction, according to county authorities.
Maui County has been procuring new buses for its transit system as well, but has seen a recent spike in service demand due to cruise ship activity on West Maui.
“For a while we only had the smaller busses available, which had a limited capacity for standing passengers,” said Johnson Winer who said the increased capacity will help the transportation department on cruise ship days.
Before the buses are put into service on Maui, they need to be shipped, titles need to be transferred, and the Maui County Council needs to accept the donation through a resolution.
Young Brothers Limited is donating the shipping of the busses, and the County Department of Transportation is working on getting paperwork ready to present to council.
The next step, Johnson Winer said, would be to rebrand the buses with a Maui logo. They will however, maintain the look of the Honolulu transit, with all the current details and characteristic white background with yellow lines.
“Within next six weeks, hopefully they will be on the road,” said Johnson Winer.
“We wish to thank Mayor Carlisle and the Oahu residents for rescuing our Maui Bus riders from being stranded. We truly appreciate their aloha,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“I’m very happy with the cooperative spirit to keep passengers happy and to keep the system up and running,” said Johnson Winer. “It’s a win win. The neighbor islands often feel like they get the short end of the stick. This is a success story, were neighbors are helping neighbors.”