Kaua‘i Bus will receive six new vehicles to its fleet through federal funding awarded this week.
On Aug.t 12, US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that Hawai‘i would receive $9,596,669 from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase new buses for Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island. The monies awarded to Kaua‘i will assist with covering 40% of the Kaua‘i Bus annual vehicle replacement requirements.
Kaua‘i County’s Executive on Transportation Celia Mahikoa said Kaua‘i Bus currently has a fleet of 60 mixed-capacity buses, ranging from 14 passenger to 31 passenger.
“Funding for bus service and vehicle replacements is extremely limited, and operating safe, reliable bus service at existing levels requires an average replacement of 15 buses per year,” Mahikoa stated in an email to Big Island Now.
The last time Kaua‘i Bus received buses was in December 2019. The fleet received six additional buses, which replaced buses that were scheduled for replacement due to being well beyond their minimum useful lives.
“Although nearly half of the fleet is currently beyond their useful life benchmark (ULB) of 150,000 miles, Kaua‘i Bus vehicles are consistently kept in a state of good repair while in service to safely and effectively serve the mobility needs of our community,” Mahikoa said.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March. Prior to the impacts of the coronavirus, Mahikoa said Kaua‘i Bus’ ridership had doubled over the past 10 years. The transportation service annually provided nearly 700,000 rides on fixed route service, and 70,000 rides on paratransit service, providing many elderly, disabled, and limited-income individuals with a low-cost, reliable transportation option to access their daily needs.
Kaua‘i Bus currently provides fixed route and paratransit service hourly, island-wide between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., 365 days a year.
“Our communities depend on public transportation to get to work, buy groceries, and support local businesses,” said Schatz, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This grant will help make transit services on the neighbor islands more accessible, reliable, and clean.”