Seniors keen on
city van service

The free program
services senior centers
in the downtown area

Violet and Wilfred Nonaka have been homebound since the bus strike began, but this week they were able to hop a ride on a city senior van and see friends at the Moiliili Community Center.

Violet Nonaka of Kahala Heights, who along with her husband helps serve lunch and does some cleanup at the center, said the new van service was "terrific, wonderful!"

As five-day-a-week volunteers for more than 10 years at center, the Nonakas missed their work helping other senior citizens, she said.

The city Department of Transportation Services on Monday began providing free senior van service in the downtown/Chinatown area, a kupuna shuttle for residents of large senior housing facilities to get to shopping centers and medical appointments, and transportation to four senior centers in Moiliili, Lanakila, Kapahulu and Waikiki.

So far, the service has been widely embraced and will expand over time, said Ben Lee, city managing director. Lee said he has trained 40 to 50 volunteer drivers to handle the demand. The rental vans are six- or 14-passenger vehicles.

Violet Nonaka, left, and her husband, Wilfred, were picked up yesterday by one of the city's vans providing service to seniors at the Moiliili Community Center.

Most of the volunteers have been garnered from Business Roundtable members among large downtown businesses, or are retired police and fire personnel, he said.

Chad Young, a credit analyst for Bank of Hawaii, agreed to drive a van when his managers asked for volunteers.

"When I see them, I see my grandma and would hope that someone would help her," Young said.

At Moiliili, half of the several hundred people who attend the center on various days have not been able to come because they depend on the bus, said program director Jill Kitamura. The number of people who regularly come in for a hot lunch at the center, about 87, also dropped by half, she said.

Drusilla Tanaka, program director of the Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center, said about half its members rely on the bus and vary in number from 125 to 400 attendees and volunteers a day. About 30 people began using the van service.

Seniors "missed their friends, their exercise classes and their hobbies," Tanaka said.

A few of the seniors have walked to the center, she said, like their 79-year-old janitor.

"It takes him one hour to walk," Tanaka said.

And he refused a ride on the van when offered, she added.


Senior Shuttle Info

Questions about van rides for senior citizens can be answered by the Department of Transportation Services at 523-4545 or 527-6269. Information is also available at

Shuttle service is free and operates Monday through Fridays, except on holidays.

Senior Center Transport. Transportation has been arranged by senior center managers to these locations: Lanakila (7-11 a.m., 847-1322), Moiliili (10 a.m.-2 p.m., 955-1555), Kapahulu (7:30-11:30 a.m., 737-1748), and Waikiki (9 a.m.-1 p.m., 923-1802). Call individual senior centers for reservations.

Downtown/Chinatown-Kalihi Shuttle, 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m. No reservations required.

Starts and ends at Chinatown Gateway Park, with stops at:

-- Honolulu Community College bus stop;

-- Dillingham Boulevard, bus stop at Kapalama Shopping Center, and bus stop across from Dillingham Plaza;

-- North King Street, across from Kalihi Shopping Center;

-- School Street, bus stop near Kamehameha IV Road across from 7-Eleven, bus stop near Kapalama Elementary School, bus stop near Lanakila Avenue.

Kupuna Shuttle, 8-11 a.m. and noon-3 p.m. (until 5 p.m. if there is traffic congestion). No reservations required.

Transportation has been arranged for residents of large senior housing facilities in the Punahou, Punchbowl, Lanakila, Waikiki, Wahiawa, Mililani, Kailua and Kaneohe areas to shopping centers, grocery stores, Longs Drug Stores and medical facilities.

Senior Medical Route, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. No reservations required. Pick-up from Blaisdell Center to Medical Arts Building, Kaiser Clinic, Queen's Hospital, Kuakini Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, Chinatown Gateway and Straub Clinic.


E-mail to City Desk


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