HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's one of the busiest transit centers in the state and the only one serving the central downtown area, but despite its approximately $20 million price tag— there were no public restrooms or even water fountains built at the Alapai Transit Center. Now, more than eight months after it opened and at least five months since the city passed a resolution urging restrooms to be constructed there – bus riders who pass through the Alapai Transit Center may finally get the bathrooms they've been waiting for.
"Right now, if you got to use the bathroom -- you gotta go hide in the bushes over there or ask the police station -- that's what I usually do," said Danny Kekoa, who catches the bus every day.
There are two bathrooms at the Alapai Transit Center – female and male – but they're currently only for employees or supervisors.
"It just makes good common sense-- where you have large numbers of people to provide some kind of sanitation," said Willie Holly, Jr., a long-time bus rider. "A place to use the restroom, wash your hands, get a drink of water—just the common things that we all need."
Holly, Jr. started a petition to construct public restrooms last June. Since then, he's been searching for answers as to why public bathrooms weren't installed—even though they were included in the original plans.
It's a decision that has puzzled Council member Ann Kobayashi as well—especially since Kobayashi says it wasn't oversight by the prior Administration, but a conscious choice.
"They said because other public restrooms they've had to close because of the vandalism," said Kobayashi, offering up the explanation she was given when asked.
After Hawaii News Now's inquiries to the Mayor's office last week Friday, we were told a plan is being developed to open the existing employee only restrooms to the public. Council member Kobayashi says that's a step in the right direction, but doesn't think the two stalls per bathroom will be enough to accommodate everyone permanently.
"We're depending on the public to ride the buses and pay their fares—well, we should take care of them when they reach their destination," said Kobayashi.
Once funding is in place, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's plan calls for the restrooms to open when the first bus arrives each morning and to lock up after the last bus leaves each evening. There's no specific time frame on when the bathrooms will be available to the public, but a spokesperson with the Mayor's office says they hope to have them open as soon as possible.