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Tuesday, February 27, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Council to
weigh bus-fare

A single fare would rise to $1.50
for adults and 75¢ for students;
the price of adult passes
would rise $2

Rider reaction

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

A plan to increase TheBus' adult fare to $1.50 from $1 is on the agenda of tomorrow's City Council Budget Committee.

Fares for students (ages 6 to 19), persons with disabilities and seniors would also rise -- to 75 cents from 50 cents.

Monthly fares for adults and students would go up. Adult passes would rise to $27 a month from $25, while student passes would cost $13.50, up from $12.50.

Adults and students would be able to save some money by purchasing new annual passes -- $300 for adults and $150 for students.

The biannual pass for seniors and persons with disabilities would increase to $25 from $20.

The higher fares are expected to generate about $5 million more in direct revenues to a bus budget that critics say places too much of a burden on the non-bus-riding public.

Only about $27 million of TheBus' original $112 million budget for the current year is coming from fares. The rest will be from various subsidies.

"I think the taxpayers would like to see a fairer system," said Council Budget Chairwoman Rene Mansho. "We're reducing the taxpayer subsidy but it's still affordable. The users of the system across-the-board are all helping to fund the increased costs while maintaining the current level of service."

Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura said he hopes the new fares can be implemented in time to make up for part of an anticipated $5 million shortfall in TheBus budget for the year, which ends June 30.

The expected shortfall is being caused primarily by unanticipated increases in fuel and equipment costs, but also is due in part to service added by the the administration of Mayor Jeremy Harris.

Yoshimura said the rest of that shortfall is expected to be made up by delaying purchase of equipment and other cost-cutting measures.

The Harris administration has resisted previous attempts to increase bus fares. No one in the administration would comment yesterday.

But earlier this year, Transportation Services Director Cheryl Soon said the administration backs a new Council policy that requires that fares pay for at least 27 percent but no more than 33 percent of TheBus operations.

Officials with Oahu Transit Services, the contracted, private operators of TheBus, say they support the increase.

The city most recently raised fares in 1995 -- to $1 from 85 cents.

Mug shots Art

Possible bus fare hike
not so bumpy for riders

By Harold Morse

Bus riders at the stop at King and Punchbowl streets yesterday generally seemed willing to accept a fare increase, but the idea slightly ruffled some.

"It's so amazing; they just need more buses," said Tony Carbullido, 45, of Waikiki, an administrative assistant.

A fare increase didn't faze city transportation specialist Mike Rodgers, 49, of Kalihi. "No, because I never take the bus," he said. "I just dropped my car off."

He might take the bus once a year, he said.

"I really sympathize with the people," said Maris Araki, 55, of Kaimuki, a retired teacher. "However, I'm not a bus rider," she added. "I rarely catch the bus."

Why was she riding a bus yesterday? "Because I'm in a temporary job right now, and I don't want to park my car and pay for parking downtown, which costs me $7. But I can sympathize with the people."

"The bus fare's OK," even if proposed fare increases come in, said Raymond Tricebock, 37, a Waikiki resident. "It's still cheaper than the mainland."

"I guess if they would improve the service, if there were more buses -- you don't have to wait so long for them, especially along some of the more popular routes like King Street; it seems like they're always crowded; it's a lot of people," said Pat Duncan, 60, of Nuuanu, a medical staff coordinator.

Better service might justify fare increases, she said.

Tony Lee looked at the proposed fare schedule and noticed his monthly bus pass would cost $27, up from $25. "What's the purpose of raising the pass?" he asked. "... Will there be more buses on the route?"

Lee, 34, of Makiki, a furniture stainer, had one final thought. "I hope they don't raise the price," he said.

"I don't mind if they don't increase the monthly pass," said Makiki resident DeAnn Afualo, 60, a city employee. Informed of the $2 monthly pass increase, she appeared resigned. "If it's only $2 a month, that I would pay -- I'm a taxpayer, it's all going to come out of my pocket sooner or later," she sighed.

"I guess I'll have to pay it," Suzy Brinkman, 25, of Punahou, a health care administrator, said.

It's still not too bad, she said.

Debbie Pander, 48, of Kalihi, who is disabled, said she wouldn't mind paying $25 for a two-year disability pass, up from the present $20 for two years.

"I think $10 a year is pretty cheap anyway," she said.

City & County of Honolulu

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