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Saturday, April 23, 2005
Scarce bus funds to curb
Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration is ending bus service on two controversial routes by this summer.
Gone will be the E-route that began service in October using hybrid electric and diesel buses that travel from Iwilei to Waikiki.
No. 303, the old Kaimuku-Kapahulu-Waikiki trolley route, is also slated to end.
Transportation Services Director Ed Hirata said both routes are being dropped because there was no money budgeted for them.
The E-route follows a similar path as the one proposed for the now-defunct Bus Rapid Transit project. Earlier this year, Hannemann, who opposed Bus Rapid Transit, reassigned the hybrid buses from the E-route to the more heavily used Route A, which runs from Waipahu to the University of Hawaii.
Route 303 came about after private trolley service along that route ended during a budgetary disagreement between former Mayor Jeremy Harris and the City Council.
Former Councilman Duke Bainum, Hannemann's opponent during last fall's mayoral election, has been credited with helping to start the trolley line.
Julie Malloy, a legal secretary who works downtown, catches the E-Route every morning and afternoon to and from her home in Waikiki.
She said that route is heavily used and the people using it are extremely happy.
"The time it takes to get from Waikiki to downtown is far less than any other route," Malloy said.
Malloy said she heard about the bus route ending through other passengers and was disappointed that riders weren't given adequate notice about the proposed termination of the route.
Hirata said a public hearing is required to be held before bus routes are discontinued. He said the hearing notice for the March 28 hearing was published in the newspaper.
Hirata said bus riders will be able to take other buses that run along those corridors.
Councilman Charles Djou, whose district includes Waikiki, said he's disappointed that the two routes are being removed because both were popular with residents and visitors.
But Djou said he understands the budgetary difficulty that the mayor is facing.
"Ideally I'd like to keep it but I understand the city's facing tough tight times right now and you have make tough decisions," Djou said.
Hirata said Route 87, the Aloha Stadium express bus, is also being looked at for possible termination, but city transit officials will first meet with the area's neighborhood board before a decision is made.