Schools have yet to begin
planning for a potential
bus strike beginning
on Aug. 26
Sixteen-year-old Kelly Tuifagu, a junior at McKinley High School, says that if the city bus drivers go on strike, she thinks students should do likewise.
"If we don't have the bus, then we shouldn't have school, either, because that's the main transportation for all these students," she said with a grin, surrounded by a throng at the bus stop after school let out Thursday. "I think I would go on strike, too."
The city bus strike threatened for Aug. 26 would affect about 14,000 students who buy bus passes every month, according to Roger Morton, senior vice president of Oahu Transit Services Inc., which runs the city buses. And that doesn't count the kids who pay daily fares to get to and from school.
"People are going to have to double up on rides or walk, or they're going to bike," he said. "I suspect there will be a lot of parents helping kids out." He said he is still hopeful a strike will be averted.
Contract talks broke off Thursday and are scheduled to resume Aug. 25, the day before the scheduled walkout.
Morton said all sorts of students use the bus, but the heaviest use is near urban high schools, because the most rural areas have school bus service.
Students can buy a monthly pass for $13.50 through their high school years or pay a daily fare of 75 cents. The City Council is considering raising the cost to $18.50 for a monthly pass and 85 cents for the daily rate.
Schools have yet to begin planning for the potential disruption of the planned strike.
Spokesmen at private schools said they expect parents to handle transportation, as they normally do. The Department of Education will encourage schools to help coordinate ride sharing among families, spokesman Greg Knudsen said.
"It's probably best for each school to assess its own situation and respond to it as needed," he said. "Perhaps they could put up a bulletin board where people can coordinate ride sharing. Because bicycle ridership might increase, they could ensure that there is sufficient space to park bicycles."
He said the school bus system, which provides transport in some rural areas, already is running at a steep deficit and would not be likely to extend that service to other areas.
McKinley ninth-grader Justin Lorrin said he would have to "ride my bike all the way from Kalihi and carry all my books" in the event of a strike. Maria Lievan, a junior, said she'd have to walk for about an hour to get to school, but she would still come.
McKinley High School Principal Milton Shishido said he believes that most of the nearly 1,900 students at his school rely on public transportation. He said he hadn't thought about the possibility of the strike yet, but would show compassion if kids came to school late as a result.
"If the strike continues on for a few weeks and they're still being tardy, we may have to take a different approach," he said.
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Military installations foresee
little disruption for employees
A city bus strike should cause little disruption for Oahu's military installations, which employ 18,000 civilians, base officials say.
Jason Holm, spokesman for the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, said that of the 4,700 civilian workers there, at least 500 use the special express buses that take them directly to their workplace.
If there is a strike on Aug. 26, Holm said the workers will be encouraged to carpool. The strike would happen the day after about 43,000 students return to school.
Officials at Hickam Air Force Base, which employees 1,600 civilians, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, with 1,500 civilian employees, say most workers do not use the bus.
At Schofield Barracks, Army spokeswoman Capt. Kathy Turner estimated that only a small percentage of the 10,000 civilians working there use the bus to get to work.
"But we are encouraging people to carpool, and we don't anticipate problems," Turner said.