Poor bus service creates hardship for residents

People wait for the bus along Kea‘ahala Road in Kāne‘ohe. – Dutches Richards
People wait for the bus along Kea‘ahala Road in Kāne‘ohe. – Dutches Richards

The Bus has reduced its service on the windward side, affecting some of the most vulnerable members of society such as the elderly, disabled, lower-income and working families.

It also affects WCC students who rely on its service to get to campus–and to class–on time.

Former WCC student and Kahalu’u resident Paul Kawakami said he’s found that the 55 (Honolulu-Kāne‘ohe-Hale‘iwa) and 65 (Honolulu-Kahalu‘u) bus routes are late about 75 perecent of the time, which affected his grades.

“The bus has made me late to not just school, but whenever I needed to go to Kāne‘ohe on time,” Kawakami said. “In the past, I’ve had points deducted in my English class because of the bus being 30-45 minutes late.”

According to a March 4 Honolulu Star-Advertiser article, community leaders on the windward side of O‘ahu say residents have reported “losing jobs, missing college classes and facing other hardships” due to “being an isolated stretch of the island which remains underserved by The Bus.”

Problems date back to 2011, when city transportation officials lengthened the average bus wait time from 32 minutes to 40 minutes and then made the wait a full hour as part of the islandwide bus cuts in 2012.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has restored much of the cuts, but route 55 was only partially restored to now a 45 minute wait time.

Also, city officials say that budget limits are keeping them from fully restoring the route. They would like to reduce the bus wait time mainly because residents on the windward side will not benefit from the new rail system being built.

WCC student and Waimānalo resident Darla Richards said the inaccurate bus schedule has made catching the bus to school hard at times.

“The bus is always either really late or really early, so I would miss my bus,” Richards said.

Currently, routes 56 (Honolulu-Kailua-Kāne‘ohe) and 77 (Waimānalo-Kāne‘ohe) are the only buses that come in and out of WCC on weekdays.

Students can wait up to 45 minutes to sometimes an hour waiting for the next bus to show up.

“There’s only one 77 bus route that runs all day, and if I miss my bus the next one won’t arrive until an hour and a half later,” Richards said. “A couple of times I end up not coming to school at all.


by Dutches Richards, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter