LIHUE — The Kauai Bus is set to receive six new diesel buses thanks to a Federal Transit Administration grant, and while it will serve to refresh the current fleet, it’s not bringing Kauai any closer to a full renewable fleet by 2045.
That pledge was made by all of the Hawaii mayors, including Mayor Bernard Carvalho, in December 2017 — to aim for all ground transportation to be fueled by 100 percent renewable energy, instead of fossil fuel, by the year 2045.
That pledge was made aboard the voyaging canoe Hokule’a in an event that called for an end to the use of fossil fuels within the state and promoted pathways to better stewardship of the environment.
About a year later, in late November, FTA announced a $6.5 million grant to the state of Hawaii to buy new buses for Kauai and Hawaii Island.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz praised it as a boost for affordable transportation on the islands.
The funding is going toward three 30-foot buses and three smaller buses for County of Kauai. It won’t increase the current fleet number of 58 in the Kauai Bus fleet, nor will it impact the bus schedule.
It will replace old buses in the current fleet, but County of Kauai says it won’t include any alternative fueled buses. The county isn’t ready for that move, yet.
“As we do the work of fleet transition towards battery electric transit buses, there are many important moving parts that are currently being worked on,” said spokesman Alden Alayvilla in a statement about the buses to TGI. “Amongst (those) many important topics is having to continue to manage existing service while funding transforming our fleet.”
Alayvilla cited the “reality of limited financial resources” as the county looks at a two-fold fleet transformation: keeping the current, diesel fleet up to date and transitioning the entire system to BEBs.
“That’s where these buses are going to help us,” Alayvilla said. “We plan to obligate the funds for these six buses in FY21 to support our current fleet replacement needs.”
The county says there are plans to take steps toward that 2045 renewable ground transportation goal, but it’ll most likely be after FY2021.
“Going forward from FY21, we plan to dedicate the vast majority of capital funds towards BEBs,” Alayvilla said in the statement.