No threat of bus strike on Kaua‘i

Because of a lack of options and the unique nature of the clientele, a strike by drivers of the county’s Kaua‘i Bus would have a “demobilizing” effect on riders, said the head of the county Transportation Agency.

There is no threat of a strike by the 23 regular drivers of the Kaua‘i Bus, who are members of the United Public Workers union and under contract with the county, said Janine Rapozo, county executive on transportation.

But as soon as she learned of the strike by O‘ahu’s public bus drivers, members of the Teamsters Union, she immediately asked her drivers, “No sympathy strike here?”

They answered “no,” Rapozo said.

“There would still be a bunch of inconvenienced riders” in the event of a strike by Kaua‘i Bus drivers, she said. A strike here would have the impact of “demobilizing them, because there are no other options.”

For that reason, a strike by bus drivers here would be “more devastating” than O‘ahu’s, she feels. Regular riders depend on the bus for lifts to and from work and school, she added.

A majority of riders of the Kaua‘i Bus either can’t drive or don’t drive anymore.

Public buses, which operate between bus stops, carry around 600 riders per day, or 15,500 a month. Buses that take senior citizens and disabled passengers door-to-door carry around 5,500 riders a month, she said.

In addition to the 23 full-time drivers that are UPW members, there are also 10 on-call drivers who are non-union, Rapozo said.

Associate Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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