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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 4:13 p.m., Tuesday, May 24, 2005

City cancels bus smart card after spending $1M

Advertiser Staff

TheBus smart-card program — a debit-like card that is swiped every time it's used — has been canceled after the city invested $1.1 million in it over the past six months.

The trial program has been plagued with problems; among other things, not many bus riders have used it. The city started the project in December with 1,611 bus riders from the city and 18 select companies who refilled smart cards through payroll deductions, said Ed Hirata, city Department of Transportation Services director.

The card is similar to a prepaid phone card and was supposed to speed service, provide planners with new transit data and keep Honolulu's 208,000 daily riders from fumbling at the door trying to dig up cash for a fare.

Instead, many of the card readers didn't work on the buses and the program was behind schedule, Hirata said. The city canceled the contract with Royal Contracting on May 16 and will transfer all credit for smart-card holders toward a monthly bus pass for July, he said.