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Monday, September 8, 2003

City owes riders with August passes

Bus riders who had monthly passes for August have been cheated out of five days' worth of rides (Aug. 26-30) because of the bus drivers' strike. Just how are we to be reimbursed?

Regarding the proposal to make a three-year Elderly Pass valid for only one year: That is equal to a 300 percent cost increase! No government entity should be allowed to set a precedent of raising the cost of any service or tax by this much. This would be precedent setting. The danger is that, once the city, county, state or federal government sets a precedent, it doesn't have to consult the citizens that they are again going to increase the cost of a service or tax; they've already gotten away with it once.

Judith E. Greene

Driving a public bus is dangerous business

I have been part of the Oahu Transit Services ohana for 10 years. Yes, my husband is a driver, and he makes a good living. But his salary wasn't even close to the $44,000 that is being advertised after five years. No way. After 10 years, he now makes under $22 per hour. You do the math.

What the public needs to know is that driving a city bus is a dangerous job! Windows are broken by ice heads, fights are broken up on the bus, the elderly are beaten on the bus, people urinate and defecate on the bus.

Let's tell the whole story. Bus drivers deserve their pay for all the hassles they endure. Do you know that with one accident their job is in jeopardy, too? There's a lot more to the story!

Nichol Meyers

Police don't receive 'allowances' anymore

In response to Daniel Siangco's Sept. 4 letter on the bus drivers' strike: If he is going to complain about half-truths, then he should get his facts straight as well. Police officers do not get a uniform or a weapon allowance and haven't for several years. A car allowance is only obtained after several years on the job and is to compensate officers for providing and maintaining their own cars to be used for police work. I think if you had to provide and maintain your own bus you'd like to be compensated, too.

While Oahu Transit Services bus driver salaries are reportedly near the high end nationally, the Honolulu Police Department's are considerably below big city average pay.

Lastly, while bus drivers may be "stressed" with the responsible for 50 or so passengers on their buses, police officers are responsible for and put their lives on the line every day for the safety of almost 1 million Honolulu residents and tourists.

David Eber

Bus drivers will lose money in the end

The bus strike does not have public support and holds out little hope of benefiting the bus drivers. In the end, after losing pay, the drivers will have little more than when they went on strike. And anything they gain will be on the backs of Oahu's other working people, those with disabilities and the organizations that support them.

Due to the strike, Handivan was unable to provide subscription services to people with disabilities who attend daily programs necessary to their health and well-being. This placed a huge burden on care providers and working families and has cost service providers thousands of dollars in lost revenue, not to mention the many businesses and vendors who are losing business due to the strike. Our not-for-profit organization was one day away from lay offs when Handivan announced it would resume services. In the meantime, our organization used its reserve funds to continue paying all 150 of its employees.

So, Mr. Kahele, do you really think your membership will consider you a hero when the strike ends? Does your membership understand who ultimately is paying the price for this strike?

Mary F. Jossem
Executive Director
Special Education Center of Hawaii

Don't pit teachers against bus drivers

I am sick and tired of hearing complaints that bus drivers get paid more than teachers. I'd take a teaching job before being a bus driver. The classroom is not as dangerous as the open streets busy with traffic. People tend to forget how dangerous it is to operate a motor vehicle on the highway.

And I believe a teacher's job brings more emotional and spiritual rewards than a bus driver's job.

If you value your children's education, let me ask: How would your children get to school safely if there were no buses to take them?

Please remember, value and respect for a profession is not measured by monetary compensation alone. We should consider the difficulties and demands of workers in public transportation before denouncing them as being less useful than other occupations.

Mariea Vaughan
Ewa Beach

'Scooting' is better than 'busing'

As a bus pass holder, I was not pleased when bus drivers went on strike. But now I find my life improved because:

1. I use an adult-sized push scooter to move around town. This is actually faster than the bus to most locations. From my house to a good friend's house on TheBus took half an hour. It takes 24 minutes by scooter. Scooting to work saves me 10 minutes each way.

2. I've lost several pounds while scooting.

3. It's quieter. It's a lot quieter. TheBus is really noisy. Check it out.

4. Drivers of all types have been nicer to pedestrians than they were before the strike. Mahalos to all. I hope we pedestrians return the favor.

We do need some form of mass transportation, but does it have to be TheBus?

Robert Harrison

Streets are safer minus speeding buses

Hotel Street (not the sidewalks) actually feels safe. No more buses careening down the narrow street at highway speeds with the sole purpose of running over pedestrians. The nature of Hotel Street is that it is full of pedestrians. If the bus drivers ever step back down to Earth, can they be reminded to drive with some aloha as they pass through downtown, before an accident tragically happens?

Jeffrey Esmond


Private institutions must guard rights

Hurray for Jon Van Dyke, the University of Hawaii law school professor who explained so very well the various issues that have once again been raised by recent legal challenges to the Kamehameha Schools' admissions policies. His article ("Why Kamehameha Schools will prevail in its effort to limit enrollment to Hawaiians only," Insight, Aug. 24) has given me hope for the future of the Hawaiian people.

The part where he explained the fact that private institutions have autonomy under U.S. law especially should be noticed. U.S. citizens value private autonomy and therefore private associations are allowed to make choices regarding their membership in order to protect diversity and individual freedom.

If the ability of the Kamehameha Schools to make such choices is going to be jeopardized, then every private organization will be subject to the same scrutiny.

Monica Bacon

Closer reading of will is necessary

I must have misread Princess Pauahi's will. I thought it specified that Kamehameha Schools should give preference to "indigent" Hawaiians. But based on the actions of the trustees, who appear to be screening applicants on the basis of academic ability rather than poverty, it appears the correct reading is a preference for "indignant" Hawaiians.

Jim Henshaw

Letting non-Hawaiian attend is right move

Bravo to U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra for forcing Kamehameha Schools to admit Brayden Mohica-Cummings, a non-Hawaiian, to the school. There should be no racial discrimination in our educational system. The students at Kamehameha welcomed him. Our multiple cultures are what make Hawaii unique.

The schools should proceed with educating their students. Let the courts, in the future, decide on the constitutionality of this issue.

How Tim Chang

Maui needs help from the governor

Governor Lingle needs to give Maui the money for a medical helicopter. As the former mayor of Maui County, she knows that many Maui residents live in remote areas. It takes more than an hour to transport an injured or ill person from Kula, Hana, or West Maui to the hospital.

If there is a car accident or someone is injured in a hunting accident, more than likely that person would need a helicopter to get treatment quickly enough to be saved.

I hope the governor will read the newspaper and feel compassion for us on Maui.

Nicolas Lisowski
Pukalani, Maui


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