LIHU’E – Joseph Misuraca carries a cane when he walks. For that reason, and since
he doesn’t have a car, he’s bus-dependent.
That’s not, according to
Misuraca, the best condition to be in on the island of Kaua’i.
yesterday asked the County Council for expanded Saturday bus service and some
Sunday bus service. The elderly Lihu’e resident told the council he has to
hitchhike to church on Sundays.
The council and two countY officials
listened sympathetically, but the bottom line for Misuraca’s requests is the
bottom line: There isn’t enough money to expand the service.
In fact, the
county’s costs to run the bus system are increasing as federal money
diminishes, officials told Misuraca and Mary Stone, who brought a petition from
40 other bus riders seeking expanded service and transfers for passengers going
in the same direction.
Councilman Ron Kouchi laid it on the line to
“With the $1 fare, it is statistically impossible, even if every
bus was full,” to make money with the current transit system, Kouchi said. “It
mitigates the amount of money lost.”
According to transportation official
Janine M.Z. Rapozo, the fixed-route bus system costs more than $900,000 to
operate. Fares return only a little more than 10 percent of that to the county,
Adding five hours of service on Saturday, as Misuraca requested,
would cost an additional $124,800, according to Rapozo’s numbers. To go forward
and add a reduced Sunday schedule would add another $299,520 to the county’s
bill, she advised.
The county pays about 50 percent of the total costs to
keep the transit system on the road. That’s going to go up, not down in the
The system, which was begun after Hurricane Iniki hit in 1992, has
been heavily funded by the federal government. But county officials say federal
money is drying up.
Councilman Billy K. Swain, chairman of the Public
Safety and Services/Intergovernmental Relations Committee, said the council
will “let the administration (mayor’s office) deal with this” at the next
budget session in March 2001. “We’re not ready to deal with this, even at the
Misuraca didn’t get what he wanted, but he got the
last word on buses.
“I sincerely hope that tourists, when they get off the
airplane, know there is a bus system. I’ll go over to the mayor’s office. I’m
put off by the bus system. It’s just not that reliable,” he
Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.