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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 20, 2006

Summer break pau for students, drivers

Advertiser Staff

Attention, drivers. Your summer vacation is over, too.

More than 50,000 university and private school students start returning to class tomorrow. And that means there are going to be a lot more cars on the road during morning rush hour.

Here's the basics of what to expect and what you can do to avoid gridlock.

WHO: More than two-thirds of the students attend the University of Hawai'i system, with the largest groups at Manoa (20,500), and Kapi'olani (7,200) and Leeward (5,700) community colleges. Another 6,000 students go to Hawai'i Pacific University. The largest private schools are Punahou (3,700) and Kamehameha (3,500).

WHEN: Last year during the back to school period, the morning rush hour on the H-1 Freeway peaked between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. If you can avoid those times, you may miss the worst of the traffic, which starts rising sharply about 4:30 a.m. and tails off considerably after 8 a.m. Generally, traffic is lightest on Mondays and busiest on Wednesdays and Fridays.

WHERE: The worst freeway bottlenecks generally occur where major roads come together, like the H-1/H-2 junction, the Middle Street merge of H-1 and Moanalua Freeways, and the confluence of the H-1, H-3 and Moanalua Freeways near 'Aiea. Traffic on local streets is heaviest around the Punahou Street and University Avenue off-ramps.

ALTERNATIVES: Ride the city bus ($40 for a monthly adult pass, $20 for students and $100 for a semesterlong pass for college students).

Leeward O'ahu Transportation Management Association offers a luxury bus service from Waipi'o and Mililani to downtown Ho-nolulu and Waikiki. ($95 monthly).

Join a state-sponsored Vanpool ($55 per person per month) or carpool (expenses are negotiable).

Buy a bicycle ($150 and up; helmets are extra, but well worth the expense).

Walk (free).

MORE INFORMATION: TheBus (848-5555, www.thebus.org). Vanpool Hawaii (596-8267, van poolhawaii.com). LOTMA (677-7433). State DOT ride-sharing program (692-7695). Check police, city and news Web sites for traffic updates before leaving home (www.co.honolulu.hi .us/cameras/traffic.htm, www4.co.honolulu.hi.us/hpd traffic and www.honolulu advertiser.com).