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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Honolulu's next mayor said he is still working on his plan to restore bus service. But Kirk Caldwell is confident he will find the money.
He told Hawaii News Now he will focus first on bus routes that need immediate attention, based on the outcry from frustrated bus riders.
"Some of these routes are to our more rural communities on the North Shore, like 55, and some of our in-town routes, like going up to Kalihi or even Kaimuki. We know there have been complaints made. Those are routes that we need to look at and restore," he said.
The city altered two dozen bus routes in June and August to save $7 million in operating costs. Caldwell said he will probably need less money to restore service, because some route changes are working out and will remain.
"There could be certain changes that make sense to everyone, to the user and to the city operator," he said.
"For the Route 2 and Route 13, I would say definitely keep it the way it is, because the change has turned out to be extremely popular," city transportation department director Wayne Yoshioka said. "People are giving us compliments, saying, 'Boy. This is what we have needed.'"
Caldwell said some money to restore service could come from a bill the City Council passed Wednesday that ends recycling discounts for some recycling companies.
"That discount savings is about $2 million. Under this bill it would be applied to restoring bus routes," he said.
After he takes office, he'll meet with city council members and transportation officials to work out a strategy.
"It's about transportation equity, for people who are sensitive to small fluctuations because they're living right on the margin," he said. "Government's job is to make sure we help people like that."
Yoshioka said the bus budget appropriation must be addressed before routes can be restored.
"Once that's taken care of I think we could ramp up pretty quickly," he said.
Caldwell will also explore whether the city can save more money on what it pays for diesel fuel it buys in bulk.
"The goal is to restore routes," he said.
After he takes office he'll be able to say when that will happen. Right now, getting there is a work in progress, and the wheels are turning.