Shuttle is planned decongestant

LIHU’E — People will be able to ride The Kaua’i Bus at no charge during the late morning and early afternoon beginning next week, as part of an effort to reduce traffic congestion in Lihu’e during lunch hour, Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste announced yesterday.

The service starts Monday.

As a introductory offer, the Lihu’e lunch shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 10:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. from Monday to Friday, Baptiste told reporters during a meeting in his office at the Lihu’e Civic Center Mo’ikeha Building.

The route includes stops at the state Judiciary building, Wal-Mart, Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Big Save, the Pi’ikoi Building at the Lihu’e Civic Center, historic County Building, and Kukui Grove Center.

“We’re hoping that the implementation of the Lihu’e lunch shuttle will help alleviate some of the lunchtime traffic, provide stress-relief for those who choose to ride the shuttle rather than drive during the lunch hour, as well as provide an economic boost for businesses,” Baptiste said in a news release.

Baptiste told The Garden Island that up to 240 cars could be taken off the roads in the core of Lihu’e town every day if people use the shuttle system.

“It could clear up some of the traffic,” Baptiste said during a brief interview. “But it depends on what is utilized.”

A 26-passenger bus will be used, but a 31-passenger bus can be used if patronage is high, he said.

Phillip Rowell & Associates conducted a traffic study for the Lihu’e Town Core Plan last year and, after a review of it, LTCP Citizens Advisory Committee members agreed traffic during peak times like the lunch hour was a major issue, according to Keith Nitta, a long-range planner for the county.

“Some of the CAC members mentioned that they prefer to walk during lunchtime because traffic in Lihu’e along Kuhio Highway and Rice Street is very congested,” Nitta said in a news release.

Carol Lovell, executive director of the Kaua’i Museum, said the launching of the shuttle system is timed perfectly for the museum’s biggest event of the year, the 26th Annual May Day celebration scheduled on May 1.

“I encourage people to use the shuttle to come to our May Day celebration,” Lovell said in a news release.

“Parking is an issue in this area, so riding the shuttle will be very convenient.”

The Lihu’e lunch shuttle is part of the county’s move to expand public transportation on Kaua’i.

For more information about The Kaua’i Bus, log onto www.kauai.gov, or call the county’s Transportation Agency in the Offices of Community Assistance, 241-6410.

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