City express buses to test selling newspapers on board
Express city buses will be equipped with newspaper stands as part of a three-month pilot project set to start Monday.
For the test, the Honolulu Advertiser is providing newsstands on 24 city buses, which will be filled every weekday morning. In exchange, the newspaper will not pay the city for the space.
After the pilot, the city will evaluate the program and decide whether to put it out to bid, which will allow both the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin a chance to compete for bus riders.
In a news conference yesterday, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he wants the plan to eventually generate money for city bus operations.
"We're always looking for ways to make riding the bus more attractive," Hannemann added. "This is just one way to make the morning commute more convenient for our riders without any negative impact to the city budget."
Advertiser officials said yesterday that they first approached former Mayor Jeremy Harris about selling newspapers on city buses several years ago, but talks went nowhere.
"It's a test to see if it's appealing to riders and whether it makes operational sense," said Michael Cusato Jr., Advertiser vice president for circulation.
Star-Bulletin Publisher Dennis Francis said he is skeptical the project will prove profitable. "That idea has been tried in most major cities across America for the last 20 years," he said. "In every case the city has found that the logistics of it all just doesn't seem to eventually work."
He added that if "Honolulu proves to be different," the Star-Bulletin will participate in the bid process.