Honolulu - (HawaiiNewsNow) You've seen them in London, New York and other big tourist destinations, now those big red double decker tour buses are in Hawaii. Ramsay Wharton checks them out this morning and chats with company President, Colin Murphy.
For tickets and more route information: www.alohabus.com
Starting this month, a distinctive and fun new attraction will be seen and enjoyed in Waikiki with the introduction of seven open-top, red double decker sightseeing buses.
Dubbed the Aloha Bus, the brightly colored, islandthemed double deckers will offer scheduled roundtrip sightseeing tours from the Duke Kahanamoku statue at Waikiki Beach to the King Kalakaua statue and Chinatown in scenic downtown Honolulu, with added stops for dining, shopping and transfers to historic Pearl Harbor.
"We are excited to launch the Aloha Bus program and offer a new and exciting way to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii," said, Colin Murphy, president of Polynesian Adventure Tours/Gray Line Hawaii, which is launching the new service. "The double deckers are not just a mode of transportation, they are a visitor activity in themselves. You get to travel in high style, enjoyingthe sunshine, trade winds and scenic views of Oahu, while seeing the sights and learning about local culture and history. A stay in Waikiki would not be complete without taking a ride."
Each of the red double decker buses are decorated with colorful images of Hawaii icons and offer tours designed to let people hop on or off any at any scheduled stops to dine, shop and view cultural and historic sites. The buses are similar to the ones originally used in London, and are now also popular for sightseeing in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York City, and other prime tourist destinations.
According to Murphy, the company has invested more than $3-million in the new buses and ishiring 60 new employees, including sales and service support staff, bus drivers and "aloha ambassadors" who will interact with passengers aboard the buses. "Polynesian Adventure Tours continues to be the leader in providing value, variety and access to Oahu's most exciting and fun things to do," said Lee Collins, vice president of sales and marketing for the company. "We have created a new dimension to City bus tours that offers something new and exciting to Waikiki visitors." Translated tour narrations in English, Japanese, Korean Chinese and Spanish will be provided via individual passenger headphones. Description of points of interest will be GPS activated as the bus passes cultural and historical sites as well as shops and restaurants.
"We're pleased to be ahead of the curve by including language translation for the emerging travel business coming from Korea and China," said Collins. The double decker buses will follow a "Historic Route" during the day taking passengers through Waikiki towards downtown Honolulu with stops at Ala Moana Center, Ward Warehouse, Academy of Arts, Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha Statue, Chinatown, Aloha Tower and Hilo Hattie. From Hilo Hattie's, passengers can transfer to a regular Polynesian Adventure Tour bus for a roundtrip to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, Aloha Stadium (when the Swap Meet and Marketplace is open) and Bishop Museum. A "Night Loop" schedule goes into effect at 5:30 p.m. that takes passengers through popular shopping and dining areas with Aloha Tower being the turnaround point.
The buses can seat up to 61 passengers, with 51 seats in the upper deck and 10 seats at street level. A stairway to the upper deck is located in the midsection of the bus. Each bus has a "kneeling" capability that lowers the vehicle to the curb making it easier for seniors and customers with disabilities to board and exit. There are also two wheelchair stations per vehicle. Tickets are priced at $39.99 for one day usage; $49.99 for two days; and $59.99 for a three-day pass.
They can be purchased onboard, or online at www.polyad.com, by telephone at 808-833-3000 or toll-free at 1-800-622-3011, or at partner agencies and hotels. The buses were shipped from New York and arrived in Honolulu in mid-March. Driver training and safety instruction have been underway for the past several weeks.