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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 17, 2001

Trolleys fill seats to Kaimuki area

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

The seats were filled and the center aisle packed chin to shirtback as the 3:30 p.m. trolley prepared to pull out of Kaimuki, en route to to Kapahulu and Waikiki.

Neighborhood trolleys chug up Wai'alae Avenue to Kaimuki to introduce passengers to the area.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

The rides were free yesterday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The East Honolulu Community Alliance, which advertised "Free Day" in newspapers and newsletters across the island, had planned the day carefully.

Community members volunteered to give walking tours of the neighborhoods around stops along the route. The merchants were stoked: green and yellow balloons in front of businesses, marking places where riders could get discounts on beads, barbecue, quilts, tattoos, crystals and thrift store items.

A party — with live music — was planned for later in the day at the Queen Lili'uokalani elementary school, said Ginny Meade, member of the Greater East Honolulu Community Alliance and one of the trolley's most ardent supporters.

The startup for the "Our Neighborhood Trolley" route, initiated in August as a means of bringing visitors into the older neighborhoods on the east side of the city, had been slow, Meade said. It improved in recent months, but not as much as supporters would like.

Free Day was a means of promoting it just a little more. Meade said the promotion had brought in new riders from distant parts of O'ahu.

Meade handed out green and yellow leaflets yesterday afternoon and motioned prospective passengers away from approaching buses at the Koko Head stop in front of the school.

"Get on the trolley," Meade called. "Go shopping. Go eating. Have fun."

Meade saved a few inches of space near the door of the 3:30 trolley for docent Waianu Ah Quin to stand, and the trolley lumbered onto Wai'alae Avenue. Ah Quin, hired three months ago by the East Honolulu Community Alliance, tried gamely to be heard above the crowd.

His narrative included the Hawaiian meaning of "Kaimuki" — the underground oven where ti roots were cooked. A common mispronunciation would distort the meaning into the act of sucking seawater and spitting it out.

Ah Quin said more, but only stray words and phrases penetrated throughout the trolley. The big vehicle continued through Kaimuki and on to Kapahulu.

Eventually, when a few more passengers got off the trolley, the center aisle cleared of standing riders. Edwardo Morales, 65, of Kaimuki, sank into a rear seat. He sighed and fanned at his face with his hand.

"It's so crowded, I didn't think I'd ever get to sit down," he said.

Morales said he had decided to take the trolley yesterday because he wanted to visit Waikiki, where he had once lived for several years while managing a small hotel.

Docent Ah Quin picked up an 'ukulele and began to sing. Waikiki resident Rick Muldowney got on the trolley.

Muldowney had just moved back to Hawai'i after a year of teaching English in Japan. He'd heard about the trolley, checked the route and saw that it stopped close to one of his favorite old haunts: Boston's North End Pizza on on Wai'alae Avenue.

As he got off at the Wai'alae stop near Boston's, Muldowney said he'd probably ride the trolley again. Probably, he said, when the next pizza craving hits.