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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 9, 2002

Mass transit on Maui gains momentum

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor

KAHULUI, Maui — Maui's plans for a mass-transit system are picking up speed with newly established service linking Central Maui with the Lahaina and Kihei areas.

Maui bus schedules

For more information on Maui bus routes, call Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. at (808) 877-7651 or Akina Aloha Tours at (808) 879-2828.

Bus schedules also are available online at www.meoinc.org, www.akinatours.com, and www.co.maui.hi.us.

Akina Aloha Tours began regular bus service in Kahului and Wailuku two weeks ago and ridership is slowly picking up, according to General Manager Dan Levine. The service is being done in partnership with Maui County and Maui Economic Opportunity Inc.

Akina has been running buses between South and West Maui for the past 14 months, and MEO has been operating a free shuttle service in Central Maui for years.

But there was no connection between Central Maui and the South and West Maui routes.

Now, for a $1 fare, riders can take Akina's Holo Ka'a Transit buses from Central Maui to a hub at the Ma'alaea Shopping Village, where — for an additional $5 roundtrip fare — they can connect to buses heading to either Kihei and Wailea or Lahaina and Ka'anapali.

All-day passes are available for $10; monthly passes for residents are $60.

Levine said he figures it will take about three months for the new bus service to catch on.

"I think we're doing what we expected. We're hoping the numbers will climb faster, but first you have to educate people about the service," Levine said.

The 40-seat and 25-seat Holo Ka'a Transit buses are manufactured by Gillig Corp., the same company that provides vehicles for O'ahu Transit Services, which operates TheBus. The buses meet federal requirements for accommodating disabled passengers, Levine said.

Akina's new Central Maui routes were devised to complement MEO's existing shuttle routes, and include government offices and shopping centers.

Several stops were designated as transfer points where shuttle riders can hop onto Holo Ka'a Transit buses, and vice versa.

Two park-and-ride stops were set up at the municipal parking lot in Wailuku town and at War Memorial Stadium to encourage more workers to abandon their cars for the commute to the island's resort areas. Levine said an estimated 5,000 workers commute to West Maui daily.

"One of our goals is to educate the hotels and condominium associations on how easy it is to have their employees ride the bus and save parking spaces," he said.

Levine said that on the whole, ridership on Akina routes are split evenly between residents and visitors.

Plans are in the works to expand bus service to Upcountry Maui if federal money becomes available.

The county subsidizes one of Akina's Kihei routes, but the others are self-supporting, Levine said.

The Akina bus and tour company was started in 1928, and is now owned by Douglas and Sandra Akina.