Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

City Council considers bus fare increase

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

The Honolulu City Council is considering an increase in bus fares to shift more of the cost of operating city buses from taxpayers to riders.

City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said he hasn’t yet committed to a specific increase but is looking at increasing cash fares rather than bus passes preferred by frequent riders.

Raising the adult single-ride fare from $1 to $1.25 would bring in about $3 million more, Yoshimura said, and increasing it to $1.50 would increase revenue by about $5.5 million.

"What I’m trying to do is make it fairer for our taxpayers, who I believe are paying a disproportionate amount of the operation of our city bus," Yoshimura said.

The city last increased bus fares in July 1995, which raised the price for an adult bus pass from $20 to $25, single adult fares from 85 cents to $1, and youth fares from 25 to 50 cents.

City Council Transportation Chairman Duke Bainum wants the city to first set a policy about how much taxpayers should be expected to subsidize the bus system before setting dollar amounts.

"We want to make sure we adjust the right fares," Bainum said. "Everything we’re doing is to try to get people on the buses. So, we can’t do something that’s counterproductive."

James Cowen, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services Inc. which runs the city buses, said there’s no formula or track record to indicate that raising the fare by a certain amount will decrease ridership by so much.

He said city lawmakers need to analyze the various proposals and not just embark on the dartboard approach of raising one or two rates. "That’s too simplistic an approach."

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