Strike gets costly for cab rider
|||Negotiations to resume today on bus contract|
|||Reservations taken today for ride on city's commuter vans|
|||Shop owners feeling strike's effects|
|||Getting around without TheBus: Information you can use|
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
Yesterday, after one week of the bus strike, Didi Ramirez sat at the normally packed Punchbowl and South King Street bus stop and waited for a cab. Since the strike began, Ramirez said, she has forked over around $100 in taxi fares.
"We can't do our daily routines," said Ramirez. "It's affecting my Waikiki-area cleaning business. I've been wasting a lot of money on these cab rides. I really hope this strike doesn't go on too long because I've been taking about three cab rides a day, and they usually run from $5 to $7 each. It's like I'm working for nothing."
Ramirez said that if the strike lasts much longer, she might not be able to afford to continue working. Plus, the strike has made it difficult for her to visit her family doctor in Wahiawa, she said.
Ramirez is among thousands of O'ahu bus riders doing what they can to cope with the inconvenience of finding an alternate means of transportation.
Even as she spoke, Richard Wards of Christchurch, New Zealand, glided past the bus stop aboard a Segway personal transporter.
Wards said he decided to rent the Segway in response to the bus strike, which began the day he arrived in Waikiki.
"This is the only way to get around," said Wards, who admitted that at $75 for a half-day, the Segway was an expensive, though entertaining, means of travel about town.
The Segway is a two-wheeled upright device controlled by body movements, computers and gyroscopes.
"I've never ridden one before, but it's so easy to get around," said Wards. "Look. I can turn around, back up and go forward."
Wards said he planned to rent the Segway at least one more time before he leaves on Friday.
Harold and Barbara Doyle of Udall, Kan., watched intently as Wards passed by. The couple, who are staying with Barbara Doyle's brother in Kane'ohe, joked about hitching a ride home on the Segway.
"We're just walking up and down the streets today, doing the things tourists do visiting the palace and so forth," said Harold Doyle, who arrived in Honolulu on Thursday and marveled at how much the place had changed since he was last here 30 years ago.
"The first thing they told us when we got here was there are no buses," he said. "Until today we had my brother-in-law, Russell, to take us around. Now, we're walking."
The two weren't certain how they'd get back to Kane'ohe, but were confident they could arrange a ride with another relative by telephone.
Seven blocks away, at Chinatown Gateway Plaza, Breene Harimoto, deputy director of the city's Department of Information and Technology, was attempting to maintain order among the crowd of pedestrians waiting to get a free ride on the temporary CityVan shuttle service.
"This is the Grand Central Station of the shuttle program," said Harimoto, who has worked 14-hour-plus days since the strike began.
"We're trying to move people around the city as best we can.
"We get lots of thank-yous, but we also get lots of complaints because we're not going to where people are going.
"We can only handle so many."
Somehow, Nick Law, who lives on Vineyard Boulevard, remained stoic.
"I'm not mad at anyone," said Law as he waited for the next CityVan to take him to Ala Moana boulevard. "If I got mad, it wouldn't do any good."
But back at the Punchbowl and South King bus stop, Ramirez had run out of patience.
Asked if she was angrier at the striking workers or at O'ahu Transit Services the contractor that runs the city buses she replied: "The mayor. Give them what they want and get this thing over with."
Reach Will Hoover at email@example.com or 525-8038.