Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.
Q. I live in Makawao, a mile from the school where I teach. If the bus routes Upcountry could be adjusted slightly, so that one could travel from Makawao to Pukalani without going through Kahului, I would sell my car! Three hours to buy groceries just doesn’t work for me or anybody else in Makawao. If a third route could make frequent loops in the Makawao/Pukalani area (including, say, Haliimaile, Pukalani Terrace, Pukalani Long’s and downtown Makawao, then the #39 could stop at Long’s and the #40 could stop at Pukalani Terrace. Or, perhaps the #39 and the loop could be somehow combined.
A. We are always looking at ways to expand our Maui Bus service to meet the needs of our ridership. Right now, the Department of Transportation (MDOT) is in the process of examining some of the routes in the Upcountry area. The County has only recently been granted a right of entry into Kulamalu near Long’s and is working on schedule changes to address some of the requests being made by riders and area residents. Funding to add additional routes and services is not available at this time, but the MDOT is in the process of exploring timing and routing adjustments that can be accomplished within their existing budget. If route expansion or additional services are desired, the community is urged to attend upcoming budget hearings in September and October, so that their requests may be considered. A schedule for those budget meetings will be sent out by my office shortly.
Q: Dear Mayor Arakawa:
What is the policy regarding public buses stopping and blocking roads when passengers get on and off, even when it is possible for the bus to pull off the road? About two weeks ago, I was in a line of cars that got stuck behind a Kahului bound bus at the Hana Highway in front of the Kuau Store. There was room for the bus to pull off the road. I thought this might be because the area it could pull off is private property, part of the store’s parking lot. Then last week an inbound bus blocked Haliimaile Road for several minutes as someone loaded a bicycle onto it. It the past I had always seen the buses pull into the area next to Haliimaile Park so they didn’t block the road. The loop of road that goes in and out of parking lot makes it very easy for a bus to pull off of the main road, unless the area is very wet and muddy, which was not the case. Why didn’t this bus do so? The bus is a great service for Maui residents and visitors, and I fully understand that there may be times when blocking traffic is necessary to provide this service. However, it seems to me that the buses should pull off the road to load and unload passengers when it is safe and easy for the bus to do so.
A: We’ve answered this question before, most recently regarding some women that were left behind at the Kahului Shopping Center. But I’ll be happy to repeat the answer here because it seems to be a popular question. The standard Maui Bus driver operating procedure in servicing bus stops is to pull parallel to the curb, preferably within six to twelve inches from the curb. If there is a dedicated paved pull off lane, the bus should then load and unload passengers. Drivers have been advised not to pull off of unimproved shoulders to service bus stops. This is due to the safety of riders getting on and off of surfaces that are not level, especially the elderly and disabled. Sometimes, it is necessary to deploy a lift or ramp to service disabled riders and this requires a level and paved surface. The infrastructure at each bus stop is different and Maui’s rural roads are often narrow and unimproved. However, it is the goal of the department that when able, the installation of a dedicated pull off will be considered. If you are following a Maui Bus, it’s best to stop unless the bus has pulled completely out of the lane.
Q. I work for a tour bus company and am wondering why wasn’t the road closure to Iao Valley on the Maui County road closure list this morning?
A. Unfortunately those road closure notifications are for road closures that involve our Maui Police Department personnel. In the case of that gate located along Iao Valley Road, it is controlled by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). My staff has spoken to DLNR personnel and they confirmed that they did send out a press release the Friday (July 18) prior, to say that they would be closing their Maui forest reserves as well as Iao Valley State Park until Monday (July 21) due to the storm that was expected over the weekend. Because DLNR staff had to clear debris from the park that gate was not reopened until noon. However you are correct in pointing this out because we should be doing a better job coordinating scheduled road closures between the state and our police department. DLNR has said they will speak to MPD to discuss how to get their closures on our notifications. Mahalo.
* Want to Ask the Mayor? Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Alan Arakawa by email at email@example.com, by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column. To request a personal response to a concern, email firstname.lastname@example.org.