As a result of the bus strike, several types of businesses have seen a jump in sales. Here, bus driver Blair Sataraka throws a shaka to a passing motorist as he and other bus workers picket at the gate of the Middle Street facility.

Bus plight has
some businesses
striking it

Moped and bike sales
are among areas of the economy
that look good during the strike

Island Triathlon & Bike owner Frank Smith has a fresh sign in his store window, so large it blocks nearly everything else: "Bus Strike Bikes."

But the Kapahulu store is fresh out of them.

"It's been very good," Smith said. "There's a silver lining for every cloud."

While thousands of commuters struggle to get to work as the bus strike drags on, some businesses are booming because of it. Former bus riders have been forced to a variety of alternate modes of transportation, including their own two feet.

Teamsters employed by Oahu Transit Service Inc., which manages TheBus, have been on strike since Aug. 26. The two sides last met Wednesday, and no new talks are scheduled, said OTS spokeswoman Marilyn Dicus.

Sales at Runners Route, which sells athletic footwear at Ward Warehouse, have jumped 30 percent while nearby stores that cater to tourists have seen sales drop, said assistant manager Darin Hashimoto.

Hashimoto attributes the increase in shoe sales to two factors.

"We do see a lot more people walking to and from work," he said. "A lot of them are happier walking now."

Plus, he said, "Whenever there's a crisis, we tend to have a bump up in sales. People tend to want to get their mind off of things."

Bicycle shops are reporting a 20 percent to 30 percent increase in sales, especially in their low- to midrange bikes, as well as accessories such as locks, helmets and lights.

Steve Naka, a salesman at the Bike Shop on South King Street, said the store sold out of bikes in the $200 range but was supposed to receive a resupply.

Many bus riders do not have cars, and the bike becomes their only form of transportation, he said.

"I think they're being caught off guard, so anything they can get," Naka said. "Even some people from Waianae are biking out here."

Many of the customers work in Waikiki, but most live on the edge of town and bike to work and school, while others travel from town to Pearl Harbor.

"Some of the people were saying they're not going to ride the bus (after the strike) and just stick with bikes," Naka said. "A lot of people are getting healthier."

Before the bus strike, Bikefactory Sportshop sold four to five bikes a day, but now averages 12 to 16.

"We planned ahead and brought extras in," said assistant manager Duane Franklin. He said the floor inventory looks thin, but that is because "everything that gets built gets sold."

Mopeds are another popular option, especially used ones.

"For me it's been beautiful," said Robert Young, owner of Bo Tek Moped in McCully. "I'm getting calls every day since the strike for used mopeds."

He said many think the strike may end soon, so they do not want to spend too much. His average price for a rebuilt moped is $900.

But Young warned, "There's a lot of gouging going on."

"People are so desperate, they'll buy anything," he said.

Bill Kato, salesman at South Seas Motorcycles, said the company is lowering its prices on new mopeds to make them more affordable. New models start at $1,199.

"I get people who come in here and bought bikes because they don't have any other means of transportation," he said.

Taxicab companies report a continuing rush of calls.

"This is more than we can handle," said Tom Heung, president of City Taxi. "At any given time there's just no taxi."

He said many customers are commuters going to work. "That's their main concern because they have to get to work on time," he said.

Heung recommends friends or co-workers catch a cab together, which would help alleviate traffic and cost less for customers.

Owner Dale Evans said Charley's Taxi & Tours is getting triple the usual number of calls.

The increased demand, however, creates problems. Evans said customers expect quick service from taxis, so they get upset if it takes longer than normal.

Heung said: "There are a lot of no-shows. People just don't wait for us. They just take anything on their way."


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