Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Wahiawa transit center
could shave time

The project builders liken the
proposed facility to airport hubs

By Rosemarie Bernardo

A proposal that could significantly cut a bus passenger's commute time is off and running in Wahiawa.

What is pleasing residents and members of the Wahiawa Neighborhood Board is the Wahiawa Transit Center plan.

"We know people are waiting a long time and the system needs to be improved," said Wes Frysztacki, project manager for the Hub & Spoke project.

The project team, part of city Department of Transportation Services' "Oahu Trans 2K," made its initial presentation at a neighborhood board meeting Monday night. But the next step will be to choose a location from among eight.

A public meeting will be held July 16 at 7 p.m. at the Wahiawa Recreation Center, 1139 Kilani Ave., to further discuss the ideal location for a transit center and what elements are needed to provide adequate service for riders.

Becky Hayashida, who represents AM Partners Inc., an architectural firm that will be designing the transit center, presented several potential sites, located near businesses along Kamehameha Highway and California Avenue such as Wendy's, Wahiawa Shopping Center and Howard's Plumbing Inc.

Hayashida explained the transit center is similar to an airport hub where "a passenger will make their transit flight to their final destination."

"It's a similar process but on a much smaller scale," said Hayashida. The spokes, part of the routes that connect to the transit centers, will consist of community circulator routes, express routes and circle-isle routes.

A monitor would be available to inform passengers where a bus is located and what time it is expected to arrive at the transit center. An estimated eight buses would meet at the center at a specific time. Passengers will be able to hop on a bus to their desired destination.

Currently, passengers have to wait for a half-hour to an hour for their bus to arrive, Frysztacki said.

"We want to have it so the routes all meet and when you change buses it's instantaneous," he said. "When you do that, the ridership will increase phenomenally because all of a sudden it will take you one or two hours less every day to commute to where you're going."

About 40,000 to 80,000 square feet of space is needed to build a transit center in Wahiawa.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Rene Mansho has slated $2.5 million in the capital improvement project budget for fiscal 2002 for the proposed Wahiawa and Mililani islandwide transit center. Plans for the center are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Board Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz supported the idea of having a transit center but said more information is needed on how it will affect surrounding businesses and traffic.

Dan Neyer, a 25-year Wahiawa resident, suggested a snack bar, restrooms and newsstands be placed in the transit center. Further, he recommended the center should be located near Howard's on California Avenue. A transit center along the highway may pose a threat for bus riders, said Neyer.

"On Kamehameha Highway the people are going to be running back and forth across the street," said Neyer.

Resident Ellen Hyer suggested a center that would provide shelter to protect passengers from the sun.

Although Hyer said there are a lot of things that still need to be considered, she said, "We need a facility."

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