LIHUE — When Shirley Parraga takes the Kauai Bus, she gets to town at 6:30 a.m. to run errands.
“I go to Walmart, have coffee and catch the shuttle over to Kmart,” she said. “I go sometimes everyday.”
On Wednesday, the Kekaha resident was at the Eiwa Street stop and was wondering where to get lunch.
“It’s good we have the bus. The old folks would be stuck at home because there’s no one to take them places,” she said.
The Kauai Bus is going through a redevelopment project, which identified schedule and route changes to improve service, said Celia Mahikoa, executive on transportation.
“We spent two years completing the project’s engineering and design work,” she said. “We’ve completed two years of construction on Phase I and II, which includes a total of 23 locations. Construction will start soon on Phase II which includes 22 locations.”
She said the plan was due in part by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s Holoholo 2020 Vision.
“He, along with the Transportation Agency, wanted to develop the transit system and care for the riders by providing quality transit facilities,” she said.
Bus stops are being redeveloped with transit shelters with seating, PV/solar lighting and information cases, bike racks, trash and recycling cans.
These changes do not add any costs to the county’s $8.1 million bus budget. And the transportation is hiring new drivers to fill existing vacancies.
Because he doesn’t drive anymore, Ray Rapozo relies on the bus to get from his home in Kapaa to Lihue for appointments.
“I had open heart surgery, so I need to get to the doctor’s,” he said.
Rapozo, who has a monthly bus pass, rides the bus as often as he can.
“I don’t want to depend on my children. They have their own lives,” he said.
Parraga is happy with the bus service on Kauai.
“I love the bus,” she said. “It comes every hour on the hour, and you can go anywhere and not have to worry about the schedule.”
But she said she wishes the bus service was longer on the weekends.
“The last bus leaves at 4-something so people who are shopping have to rush to get everything done,” she said.
When they’re not running errands, Parraga and Rapozo use the bus to get to other places on the island.
“I ride the bus when I’m bored. Sometimes, I’ll go to Hanalei,” Rapozo said. “It’s a lot better when someone else is driving because I don’t have to worry about crashing.”
Parraga said she and her sister take the bus to Princeville.
Living in Kekaha, she said it takes her about an hour to get to Lihue. But she isn’t bothered by the time.
“It gives me a chance to look at everything. You can’t do that when you’re driving because you have to pay attention to the other cars.”
It costs $2 a trip to to take the main line. For seniors and keiki, it’s $1. The frequent rider monthly pass is $40, and available at the Kilauea Menehune Food Mart, Kapahi Menehune Food Mart, Kekaha Menehune Mart and the Lihue Civic Center, Treasury Division.
The Kauai Bus is popular.
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.
Alfred Caley, who lives in Koloa, has few complaints about the Kauai Bus.
“It’s a lot better than in Honolulu. There, you’re packed like sardines,” he said. “Here, it’s only busy on the weekends or the holidays. That’s the only time I’ve had trouble finding a spot to sit.”
Caley was in Lihue Wednesday to run errands and check his mail.
“I used to ride a bike, but traffic is so bad,” he said. “I’m better off allowing the drivers to deal with it.”
Some of the new stop locations effective Wednesday for the Kauai Bus are:
• Kuhio Medical Center will be served by routes 70, 200, 400 and 800.
• Fish Express will be served by routes 70, 100, 500 and 850.
Both of these stops will replace the Walmart and Wilcox Hospital bus stops for all mainline routes. And Walmart and Wilcox Hospital bus stops will only be served by Route 70 and Lihue Shuttle, according to a release.
In Puhi, there will be three new bus stops:
• Hokulei Village on Kaumualii Highway near Jack in the Box will be served by Routes 100, 500 and 850
• Hokulei Village on Nuhou Road across Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School will be served by Routes 200 and 400
• Kauai Community College on Kaumuali‘i Highway will be served by Routes 200 and 400.
Changes to existing routes are:
• Route 100 will extend its service by ending in Hanamaulu, serving Laukona Road east-bound and Peter Rayno Park bus stops.
• Route 200 will extend its service by starting in Hanamaulu at Kalepa Village, and will serve the Laukona Road west-bound bus stop.
• Route 30 will start at Kalaheo Post Office instead of Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
There are also changes to the on-call stops, according to the release.
• Old Kekaha Store will be on-call for Routes 100 and 200.
• Hale Kupuna in Kalaheo will be on-call for Route 30 (no longer served by Routes 100 and 200).
• Kapaa High School Pavilion will be on-call after 6 p.m. for Route 60.
• Lihue Neighborhood Center and Sun Village will be on-call for Route 70 (mo longer served by Routes 100/200 and 400/500).
• Lihue Courthouse will be on-call after hours, starting with the 4:55 p.m. Route 70.
• Lihue Gardens will be on-call after hours, starting with the 6:55 p.m. Route 70.
• Lihue Airport will be on-call for the second loop of Route 70 at 20-minutes, 21-minutes, 50-minutes and 51-minutes after the hour.