By Jayna Omaye
February 5, 2016
Richard Medeiros remembers when he would doze off while standing on the bus to get to work in town. The Nanakuli resident’s one- to two-hour commute started at 5 a.m. on Route 93, and by then he described it as “standing room only.”
“I’ve seen a few times that the bus was so full that other people had to be turned away,” said Medeiros, a member of the Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board. “And I found that really concerning.”
Medeiros, who caught the bus into town for two years until about six months ago, said he hopes something will be done to address overcrowding on some of the routes from Waianae.
City Transportation Services Director Mike Formby said a 3:48 a.m. bus will be added in March to Route 93, which uses a 40-foot single bus that runs from Makaha Valley to downtown Honolulu, to relieve overcrowding. The day’s first 93 bus now starts at 4:03 a.m. Seat capacity is about 40 people, but officials found that the buses at 4:03 and 4:15 a.m. were servicing about 55 to 60 riders, he said.
“If you add a bus, people will sort of redistribute themselves based on their availability to get a seat,” Formby said last week.
Formby said a single bus is used — rather than a longer, articulated bus — because the road near Makaha Valley Towers is private and does not have a turnaround area. He said at this point there is no agreement with the landowner to construct a turnaround.
City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who represents the Leeward Coast, said residents have been voicing concern for a couple of years that it’s stressful to find an open seat at certain times and that some riders are forced to stand up during the entire trip to downtown Honolulu from the Waianae Coast.
She said the additional morning bus would help and that she is talking with private landowners to see whether they would be willing to work with the city and chip in to build a turnaround area.
“That’s just so sad to me that they (residents) have to get up that early to get to town. That’s why I want to fight for them to have a better experience,” Pine said. “It’s not just one thing that will help people. You have to do multiple things.”
Pine said she’s working with the city to address another concern on the Leeward Coast: overcrowding on Route C, the “country express” bus from Makaha Beach Park to Ala Moana Center.
Zenaida Velasco, who catches the C bus at 4:30 a.m. to Waikiki from Kapolei, said the bus started to become crowded about a year ago. She said she hopes more morning buses will be added to relieve the problem.
“I’m getting old,” said Velasco, 59, questioning whether she will end up standing on the bus ride until retirement. “It’s really, really crowded every day.”
Richard Landford, chairman of the Nanakuli/Maili Neighborhood Board’s transportation committee, said he hopes additional buses will be added in the morning and evenings for routes C and 93.
Medeiros said an additional morning bus could help. He added, “My real suggestion … is to have the director of TheBus come out to Waianae and to take the bus just to see what it’s like. I do think especially for the 93 that we do need more of them in the mornings.
Note: From her days as a high school student to the present, Senator Maile Shimabukuro has commuted daily on TheBus between the Wai’anae Coast and Honolulu. Today, her bus ride takes her from her home in Māʻili to the state capitol in the morning and from the capitol back to Māʻili in the evening.
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