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Thursday, August 28, 2003



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KEN IGE / KIGE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Marcelino Calpo Jr., of Waianae, waited with others yesterday for the city's express bus service from downtown.



School bus express
gets off to slow start




CORRECTION

Friday, Aug. 29, 2003

>> Dominique Duffy said she had to stay home Tuesday, unable to get to class at Honolulu Community College due to the bus strike. A story on Page A6 yesterday said incorrectly that she had to stay home Monday.



The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at fbridgewater@starbulletin.com.


Fewer than 40 evening commuters took advantage of a city program yesterday that used school buses capable of carrying a total of 700 people.

At 5:30 p.m., 15 city-contracted school buses, which can hold between 48 and 56 passengers each, left the Hotel Street Bus Mall headed for Leeward, Windward, East and Central Oahu in a free express service. The bus headed to the Mililani Park and Ride had the most passengers: seven.

The service costs the city $3,500 a day, and city officials hope media coverage will increase ridership.

"We didn't expect a lot of people here," said city Transportation Director Cheryl Soon. "Hopefully, more people will come when they discover this is here."

The service is not offered for the morning commute because the buses are needed for schoolchildren.

The city's goal was to use the buses to transport people who could not use other means of transportation being offered.

Destinations included the Windward City Shopping Center, Waianae Mall, Hawaii Kai Park and Ride, the Kapolei Transit Center, Blaisdell Park, Waikele Center, the Ewa Beach Shopping Center, the Waipahu Filipino Community Center, and Wahiawa at the intersection of California Avenue and North Cane Street.

The buses did not make stops on the way to their destination. But people who used them said they were able to use the service to get close enough for someone to pick them up.

"If this bus drops me off at the Kapolei Transit Center, my wife can pick me up," said City Bank employee Ron Taylor. "We have three kids, so I don't want her to have to drive to town."

Kaaawa resident Lutrell Drummondo spotted a sign on a bus that said Kaneohe District Park, and exclaimed, "Oh, God bless!"

"My husband is retired, so he can pick me up over there," she said. "It's easy for me to get a ride to come in to town, but not to go back. ... I'm so glad the city is doing something to help us."

Honolulu Community College student Dominique Duffy said she walked from the Dillingham Street campus to catch an express bus heading for the Kailua Police Station.

"I had to stay home Monday because I couldn't get to class," she said. "I live near Aikahi Park ... my dad can pick me up. But if this lasts much longer, though, I don't know what I'm going to do."

Some commuters said they wished the buses would leave later in the evening.

"Many of us do not finish work until 9:30 (p.m.)," said Hawaiian Building Maintenance worker Maria Quinto. "There are plenty of us. ... We are looking for a way home."

Foster Village resident Nani Kalamau said she might use the Waianae-bound express bus to get to her anger management class in Makaha but wondered how she would get back home.

"Otherwise I'll stay home and bitch, bitch, bitch," she said. "So, what, can I still get a refund for my bus pass?"



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