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Ilagan on bus fare increase

MEDIA RELEASE

Hawaii County Council member Greggor Ilagan says he voted to support the Mass Transit system with the goal of further development of bus routes in Pahoa.

Ilagan was among seven members of the council who approved the bus fare increase discussed in Bill 86.

“I can’t ignore the needs of this community. That hitchhiking mother walking down Makuu with the child strapped to her back will continue to have bus service,” said Ilagan, who represents District 4.

Last year, Mass Transit provided 1.2 million rides islandwide. According to Mass Transit Administrator Tiffany Kai, the Puna area accounts for 30 to 40 percent of the ridership.

“We have great challenges to face. We are the fastest growing area on the Big Island and the largest county in the state,” Ilagan said.

“I want keiki to get to school, people to get to their jobs and appointments, and the elderly to go grocery shopping, get to their doctor and visit with family. We need our existing bus routes. But more than that, we need to have even more transportation available for our under-served population,” he said.

Ilagan said he wants to increase the number of bus shelters and include more bus routes in Pahoa, specifically Kaloli and Shower Drive, Hawaiian Paradise Park and Ainaloa.

He also said he would like to evaluate and assist with getting more accurate bus times for pick up and drop off, in and out of Puna.

“I’d like to be able to have a bus leave Hilo later, so that those that work in town can return home on a pau hana bus,” he said.

Since the last fare increase in 2011, bus routes have increased in Hilo, Kona, Waikoloa Village and Hawaiian Paradise Park (HPP).

While services increased, the fleet of working buses decreased. Gasoline prices skyrocketed, and overworked mechanics continued to battle with aged and outdated equipment.

Three mechanics struggled to keep routes open, get people to work on time, and kids to school. This continues to be a huge undertaking given the shortfall of funds and the costs associated with providing transport.

It costs approximately $7 to provide a ride to a single individual. Bill 86 asks for an increase of $1 to $2 for applicable passengers.

“The bus fare increase will help to maintain services. It is our goal to expand and enhance transportation,” Kai said.

Approximately $637,500 will be generated for the General Fund from this increase.

In a few months, Mass Transit will be re-evaluating existing routes.

“I want to do whatever I can to ensure continued service and expansion of bus service in Puna,” Ilagan said.

Reach Ilagan at 808-965-2712, or via e-mail at gilagan@hawaiicounty.gov.

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