Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

TheBus has not tried
for award in years

Question: A decal is posted at the entrance of every city bus that claims that back in 1994-1995 and 2000-2001, the city of Honolulu was named America's Best Transit System. Why hasn't it been able to win this award after the year 2001?

Answer: One reason is because Oahu Transit Systems, which operates the TheBus in Honolulu, has not submitted a nomination application since the last award.

We looked on the Internet for some information about the award, which is given each year by the Washington, D.C.-based American Public Transportation Association.

We found two references to the Honolulu awards, both in "Wikipedia," saying the Honolulu bus system was no longer allowed to compete because other cities complained about the unfair competition.

Wikipedia is an online "free encyclopedia" that encourages changes, additions and editing on any subject by its readers, so you have to take the information posted with some skepticism.

In this case, even Roger Morton, vice president of operations for Oahu Transit Systems, allowed that "you can't believe everything you read in Wikipedia."

We left phone and e-mail messages with the communications director for the American Public Transportation Association about the award, but she did not respond.

For his part, Morton said, "I have not heard that other cities complained that they couldn't compete with us, and doubt the validity of the statement."

Although Honolulu is not banned from the competition, "It is my understanding that winning cities are not seriously considered again for six years after being selected," he explained. "We have not submitted a nomination application since 2000."

However, other cities be warned: TheBus again hopes to be in the running with a new nomination submitted for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Morton said APTA's award selection committee has audited TheBus statistics because they are higher than most other cities.

For example, Honolulu has the fifth-highest number of annual transit rides per capita, a figure he said is exceeded by only four other cities, all with much larger rail transit systems. He also said Honolulu's bus use is the highest in the country, driving down the operating cost per passenger mile of travel.

Other factors looked at: "Winning cities must demonstrate safe operations, management innovation, effective employee training and good service," Morton said.


To a woman driving a big Ford SUV at 5 p.m. last Tuesday on the viaduct, Ewa-bound by Radford High School/Stadium Mall. We were driving alongside and observed her reading a very thick paperback while driving. She had it resting on the steering wheel, and her head was pointed downward. We were so worried that her attention was not directed on the road and traffic in front of her. -- Shocked Witness


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