Tuesday, January 9, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Bus-budget policy proposed

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser City Hall Writer

City Council Transportation Chairman Duke Bainum yesterday said he will propose that the city create a policy that city bus riders pay 25 percent to 30 percent of the annual costs of operating the public transit system.

City Council Transportation Chairman Duke Bainum wants to set the amount paid for the public transit system.

Advertiser library photo • May 21, 1996

But Bainum said it’s too early to predict whether there will be a hike in bus fares. City Transportation Services official Paul Stephens said fares have contributed an average of 28 percent annually in recent years. The bus system’s budget is $102 million.

City Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura is looking at recommending some increases in bus fares to help shift more of the burden of paying for the system from taxpayers to bus riders.

Bainum, however, said, "We certainly don’t want to have a sharp increase."

Bainum’s Transportation Committee held a workshop yesterday to discuss creating a policy for how much the city should subsidize the bus system. He said that federal officials have been pushing cities to require the fares to pay close to 30 percent of the costs.

Bainum said that after reviewing the data from comparable cities, he believes that requiring a policy of between 25 percent and 30 percent would be reasonable and would still be an improvement over not having guidelines.

He noted that San Antonio, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., and St. Louis all recover less than 30 percent of their costs of operation from fares.

So far, the city administration has remained silent on its position on bus fare increases. Bainum said he hopes to hear what Mayor Jeremy Harris is thinking by tomorrow’s Transportation Committee meeting.

The bus system is run by Oahu Transit Services Inc. and carries about 260,000 passengers daily. President James Cowen told council members that he thinks it’s preferable to have frequent small increases in the bus fares than waiting more than five years.

Cowen said he would look at the $20 price for a two-year senior pass, which works out to about 84 cents a month.

Bainum said a policy would help to separate the fares from "the whims of an election cycle" because raising the cost of riding the bus is politically unpopular.

Bus officials said raising only the cash fares for single rides by 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for students would raise only $2.6 million more annually.

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