On August 15th, the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to pass two resolutions introduced by Councilman Tom Berg. Resolution 12-173 urged Mayor Peter Carlisle to restore the bus service to what it was before cuts and reroutings began to take effect June 3rd. Resolution 12-1777 allowed bus routes to be reinstated without raising bus fares.
“The city cannot afford the cost of empty buses. That would be fiscally irresponsible,” says Carlisle. “We cannot afford inefficiencies in the bus system, nor can we afford routes that are under utilized. To increase the subsidy beyond the current 73 percent would create a permanent burden for all taxpayers. However, by making tough choices, we can continue to operate our bus system without raising fares.”
A petition with 639 signatures opposing the bus cuts was presented to the Council. Buses end at different locations, take different routes or travel less. Two-hour commutes, missed appointments and people “packed like sardines” were just a few of the complaints voiced during the meeting.
While both mayoral candidates–former governor Ben Cayetano and former City Managing Director Kirk Caldwell have promised to reverse the bus cuts if elected, these changes present too much of a crisis for transit riders to wait until November 6th.
And the next round of bus route changes began on August 19th.
The city expects to save $6–7 million with the adjustments, but still predicts fuel costs to rise $3 million in the coming year. Berg urges that the council hold a special hearing to reopen Bill 14 in order and raise the funds. “The rail spends $4 million on propaganda,” Berg told the Weekly. “And if the mayor does not consider the two resolutions…the people need to rise up,” he added.
Why not limit bus passes to residents? Waikiki trolleys and other tourist buses are available for visitors.
The council will not open up a budget bill unless the situation is an unforeseen circumstance, which Berg believes it is. “This is a crisis,” he says. “It was a mistake, and the mayor needs to own up to it.”