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Bus strike holds the elderly hostage

There is something very wrong when a bus driver makes more than a policeman, fireman or teacher. It's true that bus drivers have to deal with rude and obnoxious people. But so do police, firefighters and teachers. Police and firefighters put their lives on the line every day, something no bus driver can say.

If the City Council buys into demands for a pay raise and no layoffs, those most hurt would be seniors on fixed incomes and the disabled.

There are other possible sources of revenue. If you want to give anybody a raise, give it to those who deserve it by protecting and educating us. If you want more of my meager life savings, charge me more every time I call for the police, fire or emergency services. I'll gladly pay extra as a mahalo for their dedication. Quit holding the seniors and disabled hostage.

John Stewart
Senior citizen

Bus strike shows city can't afford BRT

It's ironic that the city was pushing its Bus Rapid Transit plans with TheBus strike looming. The city cannot afford the operating and maintenance costs for TheBus, yet it pretends it can afford the BRT capital and costs to operate and maintain it.

Residents have been duped for years now by Mayor Harris, who has reduced services to the local residents while actively courting the tourism market for transit ridership share.

The mayor seems to be oblivious to the fact that it is against federal law for the public sector to compete directly against private enterprise. The city has banned private motorcoaches from servicing Hanauma Bay, while boosting its own service to the popular visitor site. Also, TheBus actively advertises its routes in publications aimed directly at the visitor -- a few of the publications in Japanese, no less. It also offers an economical visitor pass. This is a travesty, considering taxpayers pay about $4.50 for every bus ride taken.

The in-town portion of the BRT further courts the tourist. Waikiki is not a main destination for most local commuters. Instead of really offering commuters alternatives, the BRT basically duplicates the popular "City Tour" and would stop at many visitor attractions currently served by private tour and taxi operators.

Darcianne Evans
Charley's Taxi

Drivers should be kind to bike commuters

I am among the bus riders who has had to find a new way to get to work, so I've chosen to ride my bike. It's not that bad, really. Most drivers are nice enough to move over when they come up on me, giving me the required 3-foot right of way. But not all are that courteous.

For drivers who think that cyclists are a nuisance, just remember that we don't take up as much road space and we don't pollute. We also don't take up stalls in the parking lots. That leaves more room for vehicle drivers. Please, share the road and give bike riders the respect we deserve.

Brianna Kasal

There's nothing cushy about driving bus

To readers who believe bus drivers have "cushy jobs," I have this recommendation:

1. Apply to be a bus driver.

2. Take the 49-day training program while earning $6 per hour, no benefits.

3. Sign up for a three-month rotation driving a route on the "extra list" (required for new drivers) at $14 per hour -- if you get a run. If not, you report one or two times per week, for a minimum of four hours on weekdays (five on weekends and holidays) at minimum wage. If you get a run, it likely will be a different run every day, at all hours of the day or night.

4. Understand that your responsibility is to safely transport lives. Each bus carries 80 passengers -- young, old, children, tourists, handicapped, druggies and crazies. If you are attacked, you are not allowed to defend yourself. If you do, and you survive, you may face suspension or even termination.

5. Bus drivers have the highest rate of divorce and stress-related illness in the state -- even higher than police officers and firefighters!

It hurts that so many people have a negative view of the men and women who safely transport you and your loved ones daily. Cushy job? Could you do it? Sign up and see if you make $44,000 a year! I know we don't!

Valarie Nobriga
Mother of a bus driver

With seniors stuck, businesses will suffer

It is difficult to understand how the City Council could justify a 100 percent increase in bus fares for senior citizens. That would imprison a valuable segment of the population. It would take away their self-sufficiency and closet them as surely as if they closed the cell door and locked it.

They would take away their ability to shop, meet friends for a meal, get to appointments on their own and even damage their mental well-being.

The biggest losers may be those commercial establishments that cater to the elderly.

The Council should consider that seniors are far more likely to vote than other segments of the population, and their numbers are growing.

Fred R. Boll

Don't hike state gas tax to pay for Oahu buses

Casey Kamikawa suggests increasing gas taxes to encourage or force more people to ride the bus (Letters, Aug. 22). Kamikawa says "the fare hike is an excuse to squeeze more money out of the people of Hawaii."

Before calling for higher gas taxes, a look outside your "Oahu box" is needed. The other "people of Hawaii" on the outer islands don't have the luxury of a world-class bus system. Outer islanders have been paying more than $2 a gallon for gas for quite awhile. Big Island residents travel long distances to and from work -- a big chunk of my budget is for gas. Why should we have to supplement Oahu's bus system?

Rita Place
Kamuela, Hawaii

Striking bus drivers should be fired

Ralph Cramden-types (Jackie Gleason in the "Honeymooners") are making more money than teachers. I cannot comprehend why this situation exists.

I recently returned from a one-year sabbatical teaching English in Japan, and I know firsthand that teaching is the most underpaid profession. Good teachers shape our future, our destiny. Sure a bus driver plays an important role, but let's get our priorities straight.

The striking bus drivers should all be fired. There are plenty of people willing to work for what they earn.

Jim "Kimo" Rosen
Kapaa, Kauai


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