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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 24, 2003

Bus strike could hurt recovering economy

 •  Bus drivers walked off the job last in 1971
 •  Spaces still available on free city-run vans

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

The potential economic fallout from a bus strike could be seen yesterday in the frustrations of Stella and Peter Bazios of Toronto, who waited for the No. 8 bus along Kuhio Avenue on their way to pump money into Hawai'i's economy.

Like other tourists, the Bazios don't plan to rent a car if bus workers strike. Instead, they'll simply spend less money and hang out on the beaches of Waikiki. Then they'll go back home to Canada, talking about how the strike affected their first visit to Hawai'i, Stella said.

"It will screw it up completely," she said. "It would devastate our vacation."

It's impossible to predict how a bus strike would affect tourism spending and Honolulu's economy overall, said economist Leroy Laney, a Hawai'i Pacific University professor. But a strike that could hit as early as Tuesday would come just as Hawai'i has witnessed subtle signs of economic recovery.

"It's not something O'ahu needs," Laney said. "They are the tourist economy that is doing the worst. And Waikiki is hurt most of all."

No talks are scheduled until tomorrow between the O'ahu Transit Service and Hawai'i Teamsters and Allied Workers 996. Union officials gave a 72-hour strike notice Friday morning and could go on strike as early as 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

A strike would severely affect people who depend on TheBus, including Waikiki hotel workers, students, the elderly and disabled riders. And tourists who came to Honolulu planning to use TheBus because of its reputation for cheap, convenient transportation, represent money that won't be spreading throughout the economy if there is a strike.

They carry the potential to tarnish Hawai'i's tourism reputation by telling others back home about the inconvenience of getting around on O'ahu because of a strike.

"There is an intangible negative effect but it's very hard to quantify," Laney said. "I don't think anybody will ever know what the real economic impact is. But it's not going to be good if it lasts a long time."

At Waikiki bus stops yesterday, visitors from Maui, the Mainland, Canada, Australia and Japan said a strike would change their visits — including the amount of money they plan to spend.

Five sailors from the Japanese diesel submarine Isoshiu berthed at Pearl Harbor looked at one another and considered how they would get around Honolulu.

"Taxi, I think," said Petty Officer 1 Hiroki Okanemasa.

But the sailors know that a taxi would cost more than bus fare, they said, just before climbing aboard a bus headed for Ala Moana Center.

Ellen Garrison of Lahaina, Maui, waited for the No. 20 bus to take her back to Honolulu International Airport and worried about a strike hampering her next visit to see her son, who attends Kapi'olani Community College.

"It would be a major pain," she said. "It would be a crisis."

Ross and Jenny Gramm of Port MacQuarrie, Australia, expect to be back in New South Wales by the time any strike hits. They didn't rent a car because "we were told how effective TheBus system is," Ross said.

If bus workers strike, Jenny said, "we'd have to walk and there's no doubt it would be an inconvenience. How could we even get around to spend money?"

Frank Haas, marketing director for the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, said he hopes hotel workers direct visitors to the Waikiki Trolley, special $3 taxi routes and other transportation alternatives set up for a strike.

"A bus strike is not something that contributes to the heath of tourism," Haas said, "so we hope that it gets settled quickly."

For now, Stella and Peter Bazios hope TheBus will be running to take them to the Arizona Memorial, Ala Moana Center and Dole Plantation in the week they have left on their first Hawai'i visit.

If not, they'll save money by spending their remaining days on the beach. Then they'll fly back to Toronto where Peter owns a Greek restaurant — and where they've lived through their own transportation strikes.

"We've had our share," Peter said. "Everything slowed down quite a bit. It was devastating."

• • •

Tips for commuters if bus drivers strike


VANPOOLS HAWAII: 596-VANS or www.vanpoolhawaii.com


LOTMA: Free car-pooling matches in Leeward and Central O'ahu. Call 677-7433 or www.lotma.org

Bicycle commuting: 527-5044 or www.co.honolulu.hi.us/dts/bicyclingprogram.htm

More information: City Department of Transportation Services Hot Line 527-5890


• The city will use a fleet of more than 100 seven-passenger vans to pick up passengers with reservations from seven locations islandwide and take them to locations in town. The locations are: Wai'anae Neighborhood Community Center, Kapolei Transit Center, Wahiawa-Fred Wright Park, Hans L'Orange Park, Blaisdell Park, School Street bus stop near Kapalama Elementary and Windward Mall bus stop-Kane'ohe. Each staging area will have two morning pickups. Wai'anae's pickup will be at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.; all others will be at 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

• Passengers will be brought to Chinatown Gateway, where a shuttle service will be available for those wishing to continue into Waikiki.

• Return service will be available to passengers with shuttle reservations from Waikiki to Chinatown and then from Chinatown to the original pick-up points at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The reservation number is 523-4381, and will be open during business hours Monday. Anyone calling today may leave a message with their name and phone number. Residents must be at least 18 to use the service; the vans will not be able to accommodate people with disabilities.


Taxi companies plan to operate along 20 city bus routes and will pick up passengers for $3, regardless of the length of the trip.

There also will be locations in town: Kapi'olani and Ala Moana parks, at Sinclair Circle at the University of Hawai'i and along Hotel Street, which is normally used only by TheBus.


• UH-Manoa will potentially have 1,900 additional parking spaces available on a first-come, first served basis both on and off campus. Priority parking will be given to vehicles carrying two or more passengers at Bachman lawn before 10 a.m. Additional on-campus sites will be Kennedy Theatre-McCarthy Mall, the Music Building, Klum Gym gravel area and the Lab School lawn. To offset costs and provide for security, the normal $3 parking fee will be assessed at all on-campus lots.

• Off-campus parking sites: Blaisdell Center, Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, Manoa Valley District Park and Ala Wai Community Park. No parking fee except at Blaisdell, where parking will cost the normal $5.

• Limited shuttle service will be provided to the university and all off-campus parking sites. Only students, faculty and staff with a valid ID can ride the shuttle. See www.hawaii.edu/busstrike for shuttle schedules.

• Ride-sharing information available on the UH Web site at www.hawaii.edu/busstrike.


• The State Department of Transportation will open the H-1 Freeway zipper lane from 5 a.m. until 9:15 a.m. for vehicles with two or more occupants. The lane normally shuts down at 8:30 a.m., and at least three occupants per vehicle are required from 5-7 a.m., and two required from 7-8:30 a.m.

• The high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes along the H-1, H-2 and Moanalua freeways, and Kalaniana'ole Highway will be open to all vehicles, regardless of the number of occupants.


• Leave home at least 30 to 45 minutes earlier than usual.

• Vehicles should be checked and maintained to cut down on the number of stalls on the road.

• Rideshare — car pool, van pool, bike, walk — to help cut down on traffic.