Public is asked to help plan the future of the bus system

LIHUE — Luana Ruggiero believes some improvements need to be made to The Kauai Bus.

“It’s wonderful we have what we have, but we need more services,” she said.

Ruggiero is a Kalaheo resident who takes the bus “a lot” to get to Lihue. “The last bus from Lihue is at 4:30 p.m. on the weekends, so I have to make sure to get all my errands done by then,” she said.

Sarah Lei Pavao, who lives in Kekaha, also said the bus could use better weekend service.

“I use the bus almost every day to get to work, and if I end up staying late, I need to find a ride,” she said.

It’s comments like these the Transportation Agency is looking for, as officials develop a road map for The Kauai Bus.

“We are developing strategies for the next five years via the Kauai Short-Range Transit Plan, or SRTP, and would like to hear from the public on what improvements they would like to see in the Kauai Bus system,” said Celia Mahikoa, transportation executive. “The results of the survey will help to ensure that our plan is in tune with community priorities.”

For fiscal year 2016, the budget for The Kauai Bus was $7.5 million, Mahikoa said.

In the last four years, annual ridership on the Kauai Bus has grown to over 800,000, she said.

Last year, The Kauai Bus saw 795,923 riders on the fixed route and 78,092 for paratransit. Fiscal year 2014 saw 819,950 passengers on the fixed route. During fiscal year 2013, 781,791 people rode the bus and 747,2376 people used it in fiscal year 2012.

Bus fares are $2 per trip for the general public and $1 per trip for seniors and keiki. A frequent rider monthly pass is $40 and a yearly pass is $400.

Fares fall well short of the cost of operating the bus system, so the county makes up the difference.

The SRTP will cover a range of topics, including a fare analysis; financial assessment; organizational assessment; paratransit; performance standards; scenarios and service planning; transit marketing; and technology.

In conjunction with the SRTP, the Kauai Transit Feasibility Study is also under way. That study is looking at the vital role transit plays in a comprehensive strategy to address congestion on the island, especially on the north and south shores and the Eastside.

The SRTP will primarily focus on the Lihue Shuttle and the Westside. When merged with the Transit Feasibility Study results, it will provide an islandwide public transit plan.

Funding for the SRTP is provided through a $200,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration, while the remaining $50,000 is covered by the County of Kauai.

The deadline to complete the survey is Dec. 31.

After the comment period is closed, the contracted plan consultants, Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, will use the information to set priorities to help the county consider ways to expand its public transit service.

The plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

To take the survey, go to www.kauaibussurvey.com.

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