Bus stop cutbacks to begin in April
By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer
By James Gonser
In the first phase of a plan to reduce and relocate some of the 4,300 bus stops on O'ahu, the city will remove nearly one-third of the 44 bus stops on Kapi'olani Boulevard starting in April.
City transportation said the changes are designed to increase fuel efficiency, improve traffic flow, shorten passenger trips and improve safety.
One critic, however, said senior citizens and those with disabilities will be hurt by the plan.
"They said they are thinking about keeping the bus stops near places with a lot of senior citizens," said Ron Lockwood, chairman of the McCully/Mo'ili'ili Neighborhood Board. "Thinking about it? McCully/Mo'ili'ili has more senior citizens than any neighborhood in the state. That will not sit well with our seniors."
The plan was discussed at his Neighborhood Board meeting Feb. 3, Lockwood said, adding that members were concerned that no survey was done of residents before the project started, and that notices will be written only in English.
Starting March 1, notices will be placed at 13 bus stops along the one-mile stretch of Kapi'olani Boulevard informing riders about the pending removal. If bus users have questions or disagree with the removal, there will be a number to call to voice their opinions, said James Burke, chief of the Public Transit Division at the city Department of Transportation Services.
The city's system has not been evaluated and realigned in more than 35 years and such a move is sorely needed, Burke said. He said it's too early to know how many bus stops on O'ahu eventually will be removed.
"Right now the average distance between bus stops in the urbanized area is about 675 feet — basically a block," Burke said. "It will increase a little bit. We are not trying to make people walk really far, we are just trying to target the ones not being used — those that are in places that don't make sense, like those mid-block."
Burke said the plan is to start in urban Honolulu, then move into other parts of the island.
"We are studying the island, corridor by corridor looking at the activity. We are trying to make the bus system better and safer," he said.
Burke said the notices will be up for a month and if there are no major objections the bus stop will be removed in April.
Following Kapi'olani, the project will shift to King and Beretania streets, then Wai'alae Avenue and over to School Street, moving around the entire island through 2008.
The city is doing the project "in-house," Burke said, so there are no planning or construction costs beyond city manpower for the project.
Burke said some people may have to walk farther to a bus stop, but no stops will be removed near senior housing complexes. Regarding Lockwood's complaint about the notices, Burke said it would be expensive and not necessarily useful to print the notices in many languages and the notices themselves will serve as a bus rider survey.
"Our input is going to be when we put the signs up at the stops," he said. "I'd rather be talking to people actually using the system. The ones who ride the bus will see the signs. They will let us know. To do a survey of the general population of a bus stop in their area would cost a lot of money and we wouldn't get good information."
Burke plans to attend the Ala Moana/Kaka'ako Neighborhood Board meeting on Tuesday to brief residents on the plan. Public notices also will be placed in the newspaper and the city will consider revising the notices at bus stops in neighborhoods with large populations that speak a foreign language.
Reach James Gonser at email@example.com.