STAR-BULLETIN / FEBRUARY 2007
The City Council passed two resolutions urging the city and state, including the University of Hawaii at Manoa, to adopt more flexible work hours to alleviate rush-hour traffic.
Council’s resolutions push flexible work hours
Looking for ways to alleviate rush-hour traffic, the City Council passed two resolutions yesterday, urging the city and state to allow more employees to have flexible work hours and for the University of Hawaii at Manoa to schedule more off-peak classes.
City Council members said they understand these actions, if taken, might not significantly reduce traffic, but even small changes could help.
"These are small steps," said Council Chairwoman Barbara Marshall. "The Council's objective here is to get cars off the road at peak hours. If we could adjust the hours when workers are working, it would make a difference."
While City Council resolutions have no effect of law, Marshall said it at least brings the issue to the attention of the city, state and UH administrators.
One resolution asks the state and city to allow eligible employees to telecommute, or work from home, or adjust their work hours.
Ken Nakamatsu, director of the city Department of Human Resources, said he thinks the resolution will have little impact since there already is a policy encouraging flexible work schedules. About 50 percent of city employees, excluding the Police and Fire departments, do not work the traditional 7:45 a.m.-to-4:30 p.m. schedule.
The other resolution requests the University of Hawaii at Manoa to schedule classes so fewer commuters would be on the road during peak traffic hours, including more night classes or even starting courses as early as 5:30 a.m.
But UH senior and Hawaii Kai resident Ian Ross, who sits in traffic for about an hour and a half each school day, said there is "no way" students would want to start their day that early. Other students also work at night and cannot take classes at off-peak times.
Panos Prevedouros, a UH professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who studies traffic patterns, said the Council's resolutions are good ideas to help alleviate traffic.
"We don't really need draconian measures, such as removing 50 percent of traffic," Prevedouros said. "If UH switches to a 9 a.m. schedule, I believe we will start seeing a travel pattern that resembles more of June and July."
But Councilman Todd Apo said the problem goes beyond UH and to the whole school system. Since parents need to drop their children off at school during these times, they are more likely to go straight to work afterward rather than work flexible hours.
Prevedouros suggested several of the larger private schools should push back their start time to help stagger the traffic flow.
Apo said he is also entertaining the idea of reducing or making the bus fare free as an incentive for more people to ride buses.