LIHUE — The public had a lot to say Wednesday evening during a public meeting regarding improved bus service and the installation of new charging stations for electric cars across the island.
During the meeting, Bridget Hammerquist presented the council with a petition in support of better bus service on Kauai and to raise the allocation from the currently proposed $160,000 for improvements to the system, to $12.5 million, for land transportation, generated by the state General Excise Tax.
Throughout the years, Hammerquist said she and her husband raised many of their grandchildren who have had to depend on Kauai’s bus. At times it’s been difficult for them because they’ve had to pick up their grandchildren on the weekends when there was no service.
“So my granddaughter and I last week sat down at the computer and we put together a petition to just get a sense of how many people on the island really do care about the issue,” she said.
The petition calls for bus service to be the same on weekends and holidays as it is on the weekdays, and that more buses would come more often. It also states the added services would create jobs and an increased income for workers.
Advocating for extended bus service in Omao, Aaron Chiddester, pastor of Kauai Bible Church, stated that a good spot for a bus stop would be at Kaumualii Highway and Omao Road.
The nearest bus stop, he said, is at the Lawai post office, and he wouldn’t ask anyone to walk along the highway because it’s not safe.
The church plans to develop property near that Omao-Kaumualii intersection to include a food pantry, community outreach building and after-school programs for children and youth, he said.
Many who spoke asked the council to consider funding more electric car charging stations across the island.
Andy Cast of Kapaa told the council he was in support of installing electric car charging stations in Waimea.
Electric vehicles, he said, are cheaper for people to operate and have less maintenance issues. Though the price tag is high on the newer, long-range electric cars, Cast said the older ones are more affordable, but they have a limited range. “Looking at the bigger picture, they help the county reach their transportation goals,” he said.
Alice Parker suggested the county look into getting electric buses. “Electric buses would be divine,” she said, advocating for later hours during the week and extended service on the weekends so workers can commute back home, and residents could attend community, cultural and religious events.
Parker also advocated for several more bus stops, including one on Pahee Street, in the vicinity of the Veterans Center, clinic and other services.