Shuttle’s success drives expansion conversation

  • Photo courtesy Joel Guy

    Holiday traffic crawls through Hanalei.

HANALEI — The Hanalei Initiative has been working with the County of Kauai, state Department of Transportation, visitor industry partners, and the North Shore community to develop a plan for a transportation system that will help reduce North Shore vehicular congestion and provide visitor and residential transportation.

Access to Black Pot Beach Park and the Wainiha/Haena area has been restricted since April’s historic flooding, creating a significant increase to parking congestion at Hanalei’s two popular beach parks and along Weke Road.

Understanding that the issue of overcrowding in Hanalei would be exacerbated during the holiday season, the board of the Hanalei Initiative worked to establish a temporary shuttle system between Princeville and Hanalei.

“Knowing that winter break is the busiest time of the year for our island, we saw an opportunity to address a unique problem for our community,” said Joel Guy, executive director of the Hanalei Initiative. “Due to the road closures, we wanted to help create a better experience for visitors while also providing some relief for businesses and residents.”

The organization raised funds and hired a private shuttle operator to run the system from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6. While ridership was slow the first weekend, it grew each day for the remainder of the operation, averaging 40 people per day for the last nine days of the program.

“We were happy with ridership numbers and certainly learned many lessons during operation,” Guy said. “My phone rang nonstop during the last week of operation with people calling to support the shuttle and request continued service. The calls included residents who were using it to travel to work, hotel concierge whose guests loved the system, the North Shore rotary and many others asking us to keep it operating.”

He said in the end, the most common lesson was that there is a need and growing support for a community-led, government-supported shuttle on the North Shore.

“We also understand that these challenges are not unique to the North Shore, and if successful in this endeavor, we hope the north shuttle can be a model for other communities across the island,” Guy said.

The Hanalei Initiative was formed to identify and solve the immediate and long-term community and environmental needs of Hanalei and Kauai’s North Shore.

It operates under the premise of being community led and government supported.

“We recognize the importance of community engagement combined with strong governmental relationships, and will work together to seek solutions, strategy implementation and follow our projects through to completion,” Guy said.

Mayor Derek Kawakami thanked Guy and the Hanalei Initiative for getting the shuttle service off the ground.

He said a shuttle system will be critical in how the county manages traffic congestion near popular visitor destinations, such as on the North Shore.

“While we continue to work together on developing a sustainable plan for the North Shore shuttle, this pilot operation over the holidays gives us all hope and encouragement to stay the course,” Kawakami said in a prepared statement.

“When it’s ready, we are going to need everyone’s cooperation — visitors, locals, businesses, and government — to make sure we market this shuttle as a way to see the beautiful North Shore of Kauai. Furthermore, there are many local residents who have lost their vehicles in the April flood and during Hurricane Lane this past year, and this shuttle is also a means to help them and their transportation needs,” Kawakami said.

5 Comments
  1. Kauaidoug January 13, 2019 8:51 am Reply

    I was a driver for the I’ll fated test trial for a north shore shuttle (3 years ago?) then running from the princeville airport to Ke’e beach with a bus change at the Big Save.
    It was a bit of a disaster IMO, because there was no planning from top to bottom. It seemed to be run by one person in the county when it needed broad support from the county, the company operating the shuttle was located in Mauai


  2. Kauaidoug January 13, 2019 9:03 am Reply

    Maui, which was disaster because you had people calling for help to Maui and the office didn’t know princeville from Hanalei in many instances.

    This program needs knowledgeable marketers, dedicated logisticians and dedicated support . All of which the conty did not seem capable of supplying. There is a crying need for a shuttle but everyone must be on board to publicize and inform the public from concierge at all the hotels to an aggessive internet education program. Plus any business owner knows it takes at least a year to get traction and in this case that means regular ridership and the way to do that is promise an ongoing program . Why would anyone rely on a temporary shuttle program. Trust cannot be expected it must be earned!


  3. Jon davis January 13, 2019 9:39 am Reply

    How many times are they going to continue to dump money down this money pit. Their own reported numbers should tell you everything you need to know. 40 people a day is there highest number at the busiest time of the year, really. The company that ran the shuttle normally charges $125-$250 an hour to operate that vehicle. Lets due the Math, if it ran 10 hours x $125 per hour = $1250 per day / 40 people = $31.25 per person per day. A taxi costs $16 to go to hanalei from Princeville for up to 6 people and Uber and Lyft are half that and the Kauai Bus is $2. Are they really going to dump another $200K on this like they did 3 years ago leaving that contractor out to dry because it wasnt sustainable. Im not against the shuttle it worked great for those two weeks around the holidays but thats it.


  4. OneOfMany January 13, 2019 9:14 pm Reply

    This was one of many “No Bid Grease the Palms of Family and Friends Scheme” by the former Mayor.

    The 3 county of Kauai audits by a third party proves that there’s no accountability and checks and balances by the county of Kauai.

    The county raised the GET tax to pay for their bloated personnel budget.

    The Shuttle like the contractors cleaning on Umi street and the Porta Poti cleaning company were “No Bid Greasing the palms of family and friends scheme” by the former Mayor.


  5. 16 years March 6, 2019 12:53 pm Reply

    Build bike / foot path between Princeville / Hanalei. Easy, cheap, needed.

    Ke’e / Haena shuttle sounds lame. Shuttle will hurt local businesses.

    Freedom trumps all cards. Keep it the way it was. It was great.

    Longtime part time resident of Kauai. 16 years. Drove, parked North Shore shore a million times. It’s been great. Traffic and parking can be bad, but not everyday, some days are surprisingly empty. But this is true of every city, national park, and beach in the usa! Some days your surf break is packed, sometimes I can’t believe no one’s there.

    Encourage less cars, less airplanes, less helicopters, less consumption, more consciousness.

    But FREEDOM FIRST BABY!

    LIVE ALOHA : )


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