To drive on the North Shore in the busy summer months can be a bit unnerving some days. Once you pass Hanalei, the road narrows. It’s windy, bumpy and with the many one-lane bridges, a bit maddening, too, with many delays. The closer you get to Kee Beach, the traffic seems to increase exponentially. It’s not really so much the traffic that’s the problem as it is the parking. Haena is usually packed, and if you want a space by Kee, you either have to get there very early, get lucky or sit and wait for someone to leave. And we don’t, by the way, recommend parking on the side of the road as police occasionally come out and ticket such vehicles. On busy days, parking at Black Pot and Hanalei comes at a premium, too.
That’s why we’re glad to see a North Shore shuttle being put into action as of Nov. 1. This project is a partnership between the County of Kauai, the Kauai Economic Development Board, Princeville Development Reignwood Group, the Kauai Visitors Bureau, several Princeville-area resorts, the Hanalei to Haena Community Association and Experience Kauai. It’s part of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr’s Holo Holo 2020 Vision. It’s estimated it will cost $25,000 a month to operate two, 14-person shuttle vans seven days a week. A $75,000 grant from the county will cover operational costs for the shuttle for the first three months of operation. It’s money well spent that we hope will ease the infamous and traditional traffic congestion and parking problems around Wainiha, Haena and Kee.
Here’s how the shuttles will work, once they begin operating Nov. 1: One shuttle will provide “express” service between Princeville resorts and Haena/Kee between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. On the way back to Princeville, the express will make additional stops in Wainiha. The second shuttle will provide service from Princeville resorts to Princeville Shopping Center, Ching Young Village and Hanalei/Black Pot Beach Park between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Introductory fares of $2 each way for visitors and $1 each way for Kamaaina will be offered. Fares will eventually cost around $5 per person. Considering people will not have to drive their own cars, this shuttle could be a solution to a long-standing problem on the North Shore.
We suggest a few keys to its success.
w Convince drivers they can live without their cars on the North Shore for a day. We know that despite the madness that comes with traffic, drivers are reluctant to give up the comfort of their cars, where they can listen to their music, drive without waiting around, stop where they want and not be bound to another schedule.
w It’s critical the shuttle be on time. If users end up standing around waiting for it, they’ll grow impatient and go hop in their car and won’t come back.
w Get word out about this shuttle. Be sure people know where to catch it. Promotion is important. Emphasize it not only eases the worries of driving and parking, but a chance to enjoy the views more and perhaps even meet some new friends. Pitch it as the friendly way to travel.
w We know it has to be self-sufficient, but don’t price fares too high. We’re not saying give it away, but we are saying don’t make people think twice about whether it’s worth the cost. Make it seem like it’s too good a deal to pass up, like it’s the only sensible way to travel.
Like others, we welcome the arrival of this shuttle service to the North Shore and thank those responsible for it.