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Saturday, September 23, 2000

Passengers board TheBus at Waimea Bay for a trip toward Pupukea.

City’s emergency
plan will help few

Most bus riders must work out
their own options as the city's
plan covers just 10%

City plans for bus strike

By Gordon Y.K. Pang and Mary Adamski

City officials are warning that an ever-evolving contingency plan designed to cope with a strike of TheBus workers would be able to accommodate only an estimated 10 percent of the service's 240,000 daily passengers.

As a result, Transportation Services Director Cheryl Soon urged commuters to carpool and try to plan their own contingencies.

The strike threat looms for Monday as the union representing city bus drivers expressed dissatisfaction with company proposals.

Updates to be posted during the weekend

If major developments occur in the bus strike talks, information will be posted on our Web site,, throughout the weekend.

Negotiations were to resume at 3 p.m. today between Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996 and Oahu Transit Services Inc., operators of TheBus.

"We're just chasing our tails," said Teamster President Mel Kahele last night at the end of 12 hours of sessions at the federal mediator's office.

Kahele said: "If we don't reach agreement by 1:30 a.m. Sunday, we will go on strike Monday morning." The union, which represents 1,300 drivers and other employees, will notify its members tomorrow if that is the decision, he said.

Kahele and his committee ended the session just before 11 p.m. and told reporters that during the day's exchanges, "we moved off our position; we gave back some wages" from the union's previous proposal.

But he said that in its latest offer, "the company put on a lesser amount. They added more into the pension but took money out of wages." He said the union doesn't feel that is evidence of good faith on the company's part.

James Cowen, Oahu Transit president and general manager, answered reporters' questions with "we're making progress."

"We're not closer; we're not farther apart; we're busy doing the work of professional negotiating," Cowen said. "It isn't magic; it isn't sexy; it is just work."

Cowen said: "I have a lot of concerns about strikes. I am concerned about the public who needs public transportation and I'm concerned about our employees who will be out of work."

Under the 72-hour notice the union gave management Thursday, the earliest they could walk out would be 2 a.m. tomorrow.

The two sides began meeting at 10 a.m. yesterday at the office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in the Prince Kuhio Federal Building.

On July 27, a majority of TheBus employees rejected a tentative three-year contract settlement proposal recommended by Teamster negotiators.

Entry level bus drivers are now paid $13 an hour and senior drivers earn about $19 an hour.

Members were told at Thursday meetings that the union proposal was a 60-cents-per-hour wage increase in each of three years of the contract, and a 46 cents per hour increase in the pension each year.

The company offer at that time was for a 40-cent pay hike in the first year and 50 cents each in the second and third years. The pension increase offered was 20 cents in Year 1, 15 cents in Year 2 and 20 cents in Year 3.

Mayor Jeremy Harris urged bus drivers to continue negotiating without resorting to a strike.

He called the 72-hour notice "very irresponsible" and a strike "unnecessary."

"This bus is the lifeblood of this city. People rely on it for their very existence getting to the hospital, getting to work, getting to the grocery store," the mayor said.

Soon said "limited bus service" would be available to town and back from Waianae Transit Center, Aloha Stadium, Windward Mall, the Hawaii Kai Park and Ride facility, the Downtown Civic Center (on Alapai Street) and the Mililani Mauka Park and Ride facility.

Commercial tour companies have been contracted to bring in 45 to 50 55-passenger buses that will provide free rides to and from the those areas, Soon said. Such service will be available only during heavy commute hours.

"We will try to provide a minimum level of service for communities," Harris said. "People need to realize there is no possible way for us to duplicate this enormous bus system if a strike does occur.

Soon said the city also wants the six sites to act as parking areas where informal car pools can be organized.

City plans for
bus strike


Part of the city's plan in the event of a strike by bus drivers:

Bullet Limited bus service to town and back: From Waianae Transit Center, Aloha Stadium, Windward Mall, the Hawaii Kai Park and Ride facility, the Downtown Civic Center (on Alapai Street) and the Mililani Mauka Park and Ride facility.

Bullet Preferential parking for car-poolers: At the Hawaii Convention Center, Blaisdell Center, Magic Island and Ala Moana Center.

Bullet A small trolley: It will circulate through the downtown area for car-poolers using those locations.

Bullet Expanding the state's Wikiwiki Ferry experimental shuttle service by adding a third run from Iroquois Point and Aloha Tower both in the morning and evening.

Bullet Staggering the start-time for the city's 8,000 city workers on Monday so that many of them start at 8:45 a.m., 45 minutes later than usual.

Bullet Possibly designating a car-pool-only lane during morning and evening rush-hour traffic along Nimitz Highway.

Bullet Extending the hours of contra-flow lanes and the zipper lane.

Bullet Possibly restricting on-street parking along key thoroughfares and street construction projects.

Bullet Expanding the VanPool program, which has enough vehicles for 20 new routes. Call 596-VANS from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and tomorrow.

Bullet Increasing the hours of operation for the state car-pool program (587-7433) and the Leeward Oahu Transportation Management Association.

Bullet Possibly authorizing private taxis to become jitneys that can pick up passengers at bus stops.

For more information:

Bullet Hot line: 527-6652

Bullet Web sites: or

E-mail to City Desk

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