HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cab driver Bob Mingus bought new aloha shirts, tuned up his taxi, and took a class on APEC etiquette, thinking business would boom.
Instead it's been a bust.
"It's been slow. Extremely slow. This should have really kicked in this last Monday," he said.
Even though 20,000 participants came for the summit, overseas arrivals are way below the norm of 5,000 a day. On Friday it was 3,801. The busiest day this week was Thursday at 4,404. Statistics from the State Department of Transportation for the 37 days prior to APEC week, show 23 days with over 5,000 foreign arrivals. One day it went over 6,000.
Seems many people are avoiding Honolulu during the summit. What's also tough on taxis is competition for airport fares. Greeters offer options but shuttles and chartered busses carry most APEC people.
"We ask if they have transportation. If they don't already have someone meeting them, we take them across the median to catch a taxi or a shuttle bus," APEC greeter Donna Ambrose said.
Cabbies complain when they do get a Waikiki trip, security checkpoints slow them down.
"With something like this, the way it was portrayed, was, gee, we should have just been doing yo-yo's back and forth to the airport," Mingus said.
APEC organizers insist gains will come when the meeting is long gone.
"We've all, as a community, got to remember that the long term benefits of APEC are not about whether an individual business does well this particular weekend, but whether all of us do well over the long run," Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz said.
"We're wondering, is this going to happen or what?" Mingus asked.
He expected more out of APEC. Other cab drivers did too.