Riders protest change to Route 14 bus

Riders protest change to Route 14 bus

DIAMOND HEAD (HawaiiNewsNow) - James Kauhola suffered a stroke and is wheelchair bound. He and 50 other people with special needs go to the Arc in Hawaii organization on Diamond Head Road to learn independence.

Part of that is a daily outing on the number 14 bus that picks them up on Kahala Avenue. It's their window to the world and a social engine.

"I look outside and talk to people," he said.

"They ride my bus because they want to go joy-riding. They want to go down by Kaimuki High School and have something to eat. Then they get back on this bus and I take them back," TheBus driver Russell Duarte said.

In August the city will remove the Waikiki, Diamond Head and Kahala sections of the route. So instead of boarding at nearby Triangle Park, Arc participants will have to go by wheelchair and walk a quarter mile in the other direction to catch the number 22 bus.

"We have to walk up an incline," Arc instructor Jessica Palakiko said. "The 22 is always crowded. There's always tourists on TheBus to go to Hanauma bay. If it's very crowded we won't be able to get on. They'll just pass us by."

The Arc worries its clients will have to transfer busses to get to their destination. That's not easy given their condition. And alternatives may minimize freedom and flexibility.

"It may be utilizing The Handi-Van or maybe taking them in our own vehicles. That does not promote independence," Arc executive director Lei Fountain said.

Barbra Armenstrout rides the 14. She collected 567 signatures on a petition to save the route.  She gave it to the city.

"Everybody that signed this is from the 14 bus," she said.

Duarte has driven the 14 route for more than a decade. He said changes will also affect seniors and students.

"I pick up kids that go to nine different schools on my route," he said.

The city said changing about ten routes on August 19 will save money and maximize effectiveness.

Riders who faithfully ride the 14 see it very differently.

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