FTA funds to replace six in Kaua‘i Bus fleet

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Bus driver Ryden Tanihiro and Assistant Executive on Transportation Leonard Peters talk about the 60-vehicle fleet, Wednesday afternoon at the Transportation Agency bus yard.

LIHU‘E — The County of Kaua‘i received $1.4 million in funds, as part of a Federal Transit Administration package of $9,596,669 to purchase new buses on Kaua‘i, Maui and Hawai‘i Island.

“Funding for bus service and vehicle replacements is extremely limited, and operating safe, reliable bus service at existing levels requires an average replacement of 15 buses per year,” Kaua‘i County Executive on Transportation Celia Mahikoa said yesterday.

The Kaua‘i Bus currently has a fleet of 60.

These federal funds will cover about 80% of the total cost to replace six buses part of the Kaua‘i Bus fleet. The county will provide 20% in local matching funds, Mahikoa said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program awarded the state the money to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities. The FTA received 282 applications totaling approximately $1.8 billion in funding requests, from 51 states and territories.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced the funds would partially go toward replacing seven 35-foot hybrid buses and acquiring three new 40-foot to 45-foot ADA-compliant buses.

“Our communities depend on public transportation to get to work, buy groceries, and support local businesses,” Schatz, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement yesterday. “This grant will help make transit services on the neighbor islands more accessible, reliable, and clean.”

The federal grant will also cover land acquisition for and construction of a backyard in Kona to be used for operations, maintenance and storage, according to a press release.

In July, the county received $4 million from the FTA through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for COVID-19 related relief in rural areas.

The state and county are still working toward a fully renewable fleet by 2045.

“Once the charging infrastructure nears a point of availability, vehicle replacements will be transitioned accordingly,” Mahikoa said.

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Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

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