Kokua Line

June Watanabe

28,000 riders get
bus pass extensions

Question: The City Council announced in November that it would compensate bus riders who surrendered their unexpired bus passes and bought new ones at a higher price (Nov. 26, Star-Bulletin). I have not seen anything in the papers about procedures for applying for a refund. What is the status of the refund?

Answer: Your question is timely because this week the city will begin compensating about 28,000 senior citizen and disabled bus riders who bought new passes during last year's month-long bus strike even though their old passes had not expired.

But they won't be getting any money back.

In lieu of refunds, the city will begin mailing out stickers that will extend the expiration dates of the new passes. The stickers are to be affixed to the passes.

"The new expiration date (will be) based on the net amount that the individual paid for the new pass after they received credit for their old pass," said Carol Costa, spokeswoman for the city Department of Customer Services.

She explained that many people received $1 or $2 back after they turned in their unexpired passes.

Perhaps the even better news is that qualified bus pass holders will NOT have to take any action to receive the sticker extensions. Many people had to endure long lines before they were able to buy new passes last year.

There is no application or form to fill out. The city already has a database with the names and addresses of the people who bought the new passes and who qualify for the sticker extensions.

With each sticker, the city Department of Transportation Services will mail a packet of information, including directions on how to apply the sticker to the bus pass, Costa said.

Although some people will begin receiving their stickers this week, the mailings are expected to last through the end of February. Priority will be given to those people whose expiration dates are first.

Costa assured affected bus pass holders that they will each receive a sticker before their current passes expire.

If you have any other questions, call 523-4138. But Costa asked people to be patient.

The sticker extension is the result of a federal lawsuit filed by five bus riders who claimed their constitutional rights were violated when the city increased bus fares and canceled their unexpired passes.

The suit was settled in November after the city agreed to honor all un-relinquished passes until they expired and to have the City Council decide on a way to compensate those who had already exchanged existing passes for new ones, priced higher to help fund bus operations.

Bus fares were increased across the board following the bus strike. Passes for senior citizens and disabled riders had been priced at $25 for two years; they now cost $30 a year. The city had maintained that it had no money to pay for any refunds.


To George, James and Ricky, for helping a stranded lady on Jan. 17. I was on Kaneohe Bay Drive when I got a flat tire, and they came and changed my tire. -- Trudie


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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