It’s hard to miss them on the roads of Oahu — open-air trolleys carrying visitors to popular attractions. There are more of them now than ever and it’s a concern for the tourism industry, as well as the mayor.
The biggest concern is the traffic, especially in Waikiki. The trolleys move as slow as the city buses and they make just as many stops.
For tourists, the colorful trolleys have the allure of fresh air seating that’s elevated for better views, and even allows them to soak in rays of sunshine while riding around the island.
“The openness of the trolleys is nice,” visitor Alyssa Kohler said. “It’s a good system. I think it’s good for you guys to have this here.”
But it might just be too much of a good thing. It’s easy to spot them lined up like a convoy as they make their stops along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki
“There are multiple choices and it is confusing. You almost get a little analysis paralysis,” Texas visitor Sandra McCaskey said.
Trolley stops are right next to the city bus stops and there are up to seven different types of trolleys assigned to all the major stops. It’s a system set up by the previous city administration.
“If you’re riding behind them, you have to go around. They flash their hazards and you have no idea what they’re doing. That’s one cause they’re holding up traffic,” Waikiki worker Paul Kaleopaa said.
“They do kind of congest the roadways a little bit because we do have a car as well. So it is just a little bit daunting to just get through the lights because there are so many,” McCaskey said.
Traffic is a constant problem in Waikiki and the trolleys have the potential to make it even worse. The mayor is already getting complaints from the visitor industry.
“We have so many now and we need some form of control here or we’re going to create even worse problems, I believe. We’re getting complaints from a lot of the hotels because it’s affecting their egress and access,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.
Mayor Caldwell says the city will need to get together with the industry and the trolley companies to figure out a solution.
“Because they serve a good function, but do we need as many? Do we need them stopping all in one place? How do we manage it? Because traffic flow is important in Waikiki,” Mayor Caldwell said.
KHON2 contacted the trolley companies and some say the system works fine. Others simply refused to comment.
KHON2 will follow up to see what kind of solution can be reached.