Council turns down bus expansion proposal

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council Wednesday voted down a proposed $475,000 infusion into The Kauai Bus to expand weekend services.

The proposal was to take the money from the $12.5 million in General Excise Tax revenues set aside for land transportation to expand weekend bus services at the same time the county works on resurfacing, bridge and road repairs.

Currently, The Kauai Bus makes stops at bus stops every two hours on the weekends, and service ends at 4 p.m.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who introduced the bill, was also its sole supporter when it came time for the council to vote.

“This year we are getting $12.5 million and only $160,000 was put in the budget for bus expansion,” Yukimura said. “We’re not talking about the bus to the exclusion of roads.”

She said the current administration “is not really understanding the urgency of the need for expanded service,” but other councilmembers said the Transportation Agency needs time to get the bus system in order before expanding it.

The agency is working with a consultant to identify ways to make the system more efficient, like streamlining routes and drivers and identifying weaknesses in the system.

The money saved from correcting those inefficiencies can be used for expanded weekend service, said some councilmembers.

“People say follow the plan and we are,” said Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro. “We are looking at inefficiencies first and then look at expanding services.”

Council Chair Mel Rapozo said the council heard from the administration recently on the subject and funded a study to be done to correct inefficiencies.

“This is a wonderful idea, but if the administration isn’t ready, why put half a million into the fund that isn’t going to get used?” Rapozo asked.

Celia Mahikoa, transportation executive, said nothing has changed since the last time the subject was addressed and it is still the plan to use the money saved by making the system more efficient to expand weekend services.

“We’re fully committed to wanting to identify efficiencies and proceeding in the most responsible way,” Mahikoa said. “Weekend service (expansion) is dependent on the money coming from the efficiency study.”

Kauai resident Lonnie Sykos asked about a plan for maintenance and upkeep of potential expanded weekend service, saying he’s not necessarily opposed to increased services if they have support.

“How much of this money is going to administrative costs versus bringing it to the streets? I want to hear about maintenance,” he said.

Bridget Hammerquist pointed out the GET money is dedicated to land transportation, which includes the bus, and there should be an emphasis on expanded weekend transportation.

Bruce Hart said he’s not in favor of switching money over from road repair and dedicating it to weekend bus service, but Eileen Kechloian said she’s for the idea.

“More people riding the bus means less impact on the roads,” she said.

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Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at jelse@thegardenisland.com.

5 Comments
  1. Uncleaina July 12, 2018 9:31 am Reply

    Glad to see the council shutting Yukimura down! No, no we don’t need to waste more money on the bus! We spend about $35,000 per DAY to transport about 2000 people around a tiny island. Makes literally no sense! Each and every trip is subsidized by $8 each way. It’s more expensive than Uber once all the taxpayers contributions are factored in. Glad to see her cut off like someone who’s had too much- also glad her affordable housing thing collapsed. Look before you start taking money from Kauai taxpayers, you’d better be giving us back something we can use – like a 4 lane highway or better schools, not expanding programs that are already not working. I’ll be honest Joann, by spending your entire life living here and being in politics that entire time, you don’t have enough life experience outside of Kauai to make good decisions.


  2. livealoha July 12, 2018 3:14 pm Reply

    Again…thank you Joanne. All of the candidates have stated that they are for affordable housing, infrastructure and increasing the bus service. Yet are against this proposal. if the county has $160,000 set aside for bus expansion and you are proposing that we put $475,000 aside that’s a difference of $315,000. How much road can we pave for $315,00, 5 feet?


  3. MisterM July 12, 2018 3:31 pm Reply

    Phew. Glad a modicum of sanity remains. A grossly under-used bus system needs drastic cuts, not more taxpayer money wasted on ridiculous expansions.


  4. concerned kauaian July 12, 2018 6:21 pm Reply

    Joann is desperate


  5. Dan July 12, 2018 7:18 pm Reply

    Anyone who believes so strongly in the expanded bus system should forgo (sell) their car and use the bus system as their sole transportation for a year. Through that they can see what the issues/merits are. Doing this would be a great testimony and example to others on the island.


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