Friday, December 07, 2007


The Bus company should be replaced

by Larry Geller

Honolulu residents who have never been to Portland, Oregon or other places where people depend on public transportation may not realize how pathetic the system is that we have here.

Here's a pic I snapped while walking home from the State Capitol recently. It's NoMapsthe bus stop across from the Capitol, in front of the Department of Health. It's a major transfer point and a tourist destination, but there's no map and not even an indication of what buses might stop there. Nevermind a timetable or anything like you might find in other cities.

I'm concerned that the City is about to spend a ton of our money on a rail system that they may not have a clue on how to operate. The fact that it doesn't go where it is needed should be a hint. The clashes between the City Council and the Mayor on the system don't bode well either. While many private citizens and several City Council members are still looking for alternatives to a train, it's rumored that the Mayor has already settled on a Hitachi system, and so that's the one that will be shoved down our throats.

Strong language. Weak system. I just don't trust City Hall to spend our tax money wisely, based on the evidence we have before us: a third-world bus system that can't even put up basic signage, a decent website, or keep to a schedule (when you learn what it is).

Many people who depend on the Handi-Van can also give you an earful about problems with that service.

Finally, one of my pet peeves. After living in Tokyo for nearly 17 years, I was used to bus fare boxes making change. They made change when we moved there in 1972. Honolulu bus fare boxes still don't make change. Also, do you remember the "smart cards" scandal of a few years ago?:

A government contractor that is a subject of a criminal investigation into Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris' political campaign received a $2.2 million city contract for a state-of-the art bus fare system, even though the company has no experience in providing such systems.

City officials awarded a two-year contract in March to Royal Contracting Co. to provide a smart-card fare payment system for the city's bus system.
City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle's investigation into the Harris campaign began taking a close look at Royal Contracting in February after [Royal Contracting Vice President Leonard] Leong told the Star-Bulletin that his firm delivered dozens of historic city curbstones to city Managing Director Ben Lee.

The curbstones, which were provided at no cost, were to be used for a walkway at Lee's Punchbowl-area home. [Bus fare card contract goes to firm with no experience, Star-Bulletin 8/14/2003]

That sounds like petty, third-world corruption.

Before the first spike is driven, we should get competent management for our city transportation system. Don't you think?


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I ride the bus every day. It is by choice; a vehicle remains idle in a parking spot.

International travel takes me to global points on a monthly basis. Our bus system, on Oahu, is just plain poor. Shameful.

Spend the money on perfecting the present system; not creating a new mess.

If you would, could you say where you have visited, and what part of their transportation system you think we should have here in Honolulu?

Yep mass transit here is terrible.

When I lived in DC I owned a car, but never drove it into the city. There was no parking and the Metro was fast and reliable and transferring between the subway and the bus was painless. A good copy of SFs BART.

Portland was amazing though. I spent a month up there. I loved the fairless square, and the fact that you could go anywhere in the city quickly using public transport.

We definitely have to commit to a serious upgrade of public transportation now. I'm partial to trains, and I hope that the council will recover its wits and make the right decision by making sure the areas with the most need get service first. Granted that might be a tall request considering the council hasn't even had the guts to address the landfill/refuse problem.

As much as it pains me to say this, our Bus and the HandiVan, while essential, are not put into service in an efficient manner.

The HandiVan is a perfect example -- they need more of them on the road and need to stop treating them like a city bus. They're not a city bus! You cannot keep people on a van for four hours just because you don't want to put another one out on the road! We won't even talk about the blood clots that can and HAVE happened to elderly passengers because of such nonsense. Trust me, if I could have proven it, you would have heard about it!

They are good systems... they just need to be used correctly and to their full potential!

You guys are right, it is a scary thought that this same kind of management would be running a rail system. Even TheBoat has been canceled more than anything else. What kind of "dependability" is that? I would never commit to something that lets me down all the time! Sigh. Nobody listens to us anyway.

what i find so funny is that the mayor's office keeps saying things like "Make mass transit a reality," when they can't even run TheBus, which is, in reality, a poorly run transit system.

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