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Riders’ request misses the bus

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.

Misuraca

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

Misuraca.

“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,

she said.

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

future.

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

sub-committee level.”

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

concluded.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.

252).

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