State approves 10% increase for local motor-coach rates
It's going to get a little more expensive to ride on a Hawaii tour bus next year.
The state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state's ground transportation industry, has approved a 10 percent increase in motor-coach rates that will go into effect on Jan. 1.
The increase was sought by tour bus companies to cover their increases in fuel costs, wages, insurance premiums and other expenses. Among the tour bus companies affected by the increase are Polynesian Adventure, Polynesian Hospitality, Roberts Hawaii, Trans Quality Inc., Travel Plaza Transportation and VIP Transportation.
The increase was approved in June but not announced until yesterday by the Western Motor Tariff Bureau Inc., a nonprofit organization that represents the tour bus companies.
Tour bus companies typically get their customers through contracts with travel agents and by selling tours directly to passengers or groups, said Bob Lewis, general manager of the Western Motor Tariff Bureau.
"Travel agents on the mainland that sell tours for Hawaii would include in that some ground transportation in which they would hire the tour bus companies," he said.
Stacey Djou, chief counsel for the Public Utilities Commission, said the rate increase was approved under a pilot program created in December 2003 that allows motor carriers to file for up to a 10 percent increase within a 12-month period. The program, which expedites the approval process and reduces the expense of a regular filing, has since been extended through December 2007.