Delays force TheBus to drop passengers before destination

It’s a simple expectation: If you take a city bus that’s supposed to go to Ala Moana Center, it should drop you off there. But it turns out, that doesn’t always happen.

KHON2 received an Action Line call from Pam Kalama, who regularly takes the Route C Country Express Bus from Nanakuli to Ala Moana Center. She says, at times, her entire bus is emptied at Punchbowl St. instead.

“(The bus driver) said he’s running late and that I need to hurry and get off because he’s late,” Kalama said. “I said, so are we, hundred of us getting off your bus.”

Kalama says it’s happened five times in the past month. “Everybody’s scrambling, trying to figure out which bus to get on that will get them close to the shopping center or wherever they’re going,” she said.

Many buses stop at Punchbowl St. and go to Ala Moana Center, but Kalama says, at that time of the day, many of them are already full. “As they’re coming up, they’re all packed,” she said. “They’ve got their own passengers that they picked up along the way.”

The C bus goes from Makaha through Kapolei, Pearl City and down through Kalihi. It should go to Ala Moana Center, but TheBus president Roger Morton says it hits some of the heaviest traffic jams during the morning rush hour and that’s why passengers are forced to get off before their desired stop regularly. “It has been something that we’ve done too often and too consistently,” he admitted.

Morton said that when a bus is about 20-25 minutes late, emptying its passengers allows the driver to catch up. It happens on other routes, too. When asked if inconveniencing a busload of people is worth it, Morton said, “If we keep it late, then we will inconvenience many trips, many bus trips throughout, for the rest of the day.”

Morton says the company will add a spare bus that can take over the route, so passengers can still be dropped off at Ala Moana Center even if the bus is running late. “Bottom line for us is, if it consistently happens like that, we want to fix it and we’re going to fix it the next time we change our schedules,” he said.

The change to add the bus won’t happen until the first week of June and Morton says the addition will cost about $15,000 a year. The money will come out of TheBus’ general fund.

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