New bus routes on tap

LIHUE — In its continuing effort to maximizing efficiency, the Kauai Transportation Agency next month plans to implement new bus routes, resulting in savings of up to $120,000, according to the county.

By eliminating the Lihue lunch shuttle, which has demonstrated very low ridership, the Kauai Bus service will re-allocate resources to areas with higher demand such as the regular Lihue shuttle and para-transit service, according to Celia Mahikoa, Kauai’s executive on transportation.

Kauai Council Member JoAnn Yukimura, an advocate of streamlining transportation efforts and improving efficiency to alleviate traffic congestion, said she supports the route changes.

“If we can shift even a few percentages of total trips from cars (single occupancy vehicle and multiple occupant vehicle) to bus trips between towns and to biking, walking and bus shuttle within towns, we will reduce congestion by freeing up existing road space,” Yukimura said last week.

“This is not the only way to reduce congestion, but it is the cheapest, fastest and most flexible way to get results. The good news is drivers don’t have to abandon their cars and we don’t have to spend a lot of money convincing people to ride the bus,” she said.

“Past experience with bus expansion has shown that when we expand bus services and make the Kauai Bus more available, convenient and user friendly, ridership goes up automatically, naturally indicating a pent-up demand,” Yukimura said.

As Kauai Bus expansion plans address these issues, more people will ride automatically, Yukimura said. Such a shift will not only create more road space, it will also reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas production on Kauai, addressing climate change and creating a more sustainable land transportation system.

Such a shift will help families save money while promoting healthy lifestyles, Daubert said.

Eric Nordmeier, who rides the bus to and from work every day between Lihue and Hanapepe, estimates he saves more $1,500 per year by riding the bus.

If a family can get rid of one car because one person can commute to work or school by bus, the family can qualify for $50,000 in mortgage money, he estimates. Over the long haul, that can accumulate to $130,000 to help with a college education, Nordmeier suggested.

Streamlining routes could also be accomplished by implemented the following changes, according to Daubert.

w Discontinuing the rarely used Lihue lunch bus shuttle, which currently runs at 15-minute intervals. Service would instead be provided hourly during in the early afternoon and increase to every half-hour during peak afternoon times.

w Eliminating the Coconut Grove Marketplace on-call stops and providing instead hourly on-call stops at Moloaa Fruit stand after 6 p.m.

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