School traffic
woes restart

More than 44,000 students will
return to year-round classes
starting Wednesday

By Leila Fujimori

The summer bliss for morning commuters will soon be over as thousands of public school students return to class beginning this week.

Starting Wednesday, more than 44,000 students in year-round schools begin classes.

By the end of August, about 200,000 students at public and private schools and universities will have returned from summer vacation, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The staggered start times for public schools will make for an easier transition to the school-year morning commute from the summertime morning commute, officials said.

"Actually, it's better for traffic that schools come back in increments," said Marilyn Kali, DOT spokeswoman. "That way, we build up to the maximum number of cars gradually rather than all in just one day. If everyone goes back to school on the same day, people aren't prepared for it."

More than 8,000 public school students on the traditional calendar start classes Aug. 22 and 23.

Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen believes that public school traffic is usually localized, with a few exceptions such as Kalani High School, which fronts busy Kalanianaole Highway, the primary access into town for East Oahu residents.

The morning rush in on

The number of public students returning to class Wednesday through Friday
The number of public school students returning to class Aug. 22-23
The number of university, private and public school students returning to class Aug. 26-28

"The biggest effect (on traffic) is the university," Knudsen said, adding that "private school students go a longer distance."

More than 48,000 university, community college, private school students and public school students return the week of Aug. 26.

"University of Hawaii kids driving to school has more of an impact on traffic than neighborhood kids going back to school," Kali said, but she pointed out that many parents take vacation during the summer, as well as teachers, and all of them will also return to work.

"People have to get back in the mindset that they have to leave earlier or later, that they need to plan their routes," Kali said.

Kali recommends that if people have flexible schedules, they adjust the time they leave to avoid peak traffic periods.

"If I leave at 6:45 a.m., I get to work in an hour," Kali said. "If I leave at 8 a.m., 8:15 a.m. or 8:30 a.m., I get here all at the same time by 9 a.m."

People are also advised to make sure their cars are in good working condition with plenty of gas.

"For every minute a car is stalled on the freeway, it takes about 10 minutes to get back to normal," Kali said.

The DOT recommends people beat the back-to-school jam by carpooling, biking to work or using TheBus, public or private school buses.

Sharing a ride with just one other person will allow motorists to use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and Zip lanes.

For free carpool and School Pool matching services, call the Transportation Department at 587-7433. School Pool provides a matching service for Oahu students in grades K-12.

Leeward commuters can contact the Leeward Oahu Transportation Management Association at 677-7433.

Vanpool Hawaii offers vans to groups of four or more, starting at $50 per month per person or, for a few dollars more, the Cool Pool program will provide sport utility vehicles. Call 596-8267 for more information.

The Commuter Express Bus Services provides a reserved seat to those traveling to Downtown Honolulu or Waikiki from Waipio or Mililani.

Transportation alternatives

Leeward Oahu Transportation Mgt. Association . 677-7433

Rideshare 587-7433

TheBus 848-5555

Vanpool Hawaii 596-8267

E-mail to City Desk


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