KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials from the city and Oahu Transit Services met with Handi-Van riders on Monday to explain a major change that is aimed at reducing complaints. Users voiced their frustrations about issues ranging from long wait times to scheduling problems. Some said they've waited up to three and a half hours to be picked up.
"They tell you call back in half an hour. You call back in half an hour and then another half an hour. Then I've been told, 'Oh, there's a driver, but there's no van.' That's horror," said rider Marie Prioleaulewis of Makakilo.
Now the city is launching a new initiative to improve efficiency and reduce wait times for the more 8,000 Handi-Van users. The Real Time Scheduling starts on October 16. Riders will be allowed to request exact times such as 9:15 instead of being limited to on the hour scheduling such as 9 or 10 o'clock.
"Our reservationists are going to have a few trips that pop up that say this is the first one, this is the best one. This next one is the second best, and we're going to go through a process with you folks to say which one would best meet your needs," explained Roger Morton, president of Oahu Transit Services.
"I'm praying that this will work. I came from a large city, several large cities when I was working, and I've never had this problem," said Prioleaulewis.
The city also purchased 99 new Handi-Vans. After some delays, officials hope all of the vehicles will be in use by the end of the year.
"This has been a real challenging thing for us just to have enough vehicles together cause our fleet has been so old," said Morton.
Officials admit the new service won't solve all of the Handi-Van's problems, but they hope the changes will help.
"Part of the problem is there's a growing demand for the service. As people get older, there's just more and more people who become eligible and want to take advantage of it," said Mark Garrity, deputy director of the Department of Transportation Services.
A second informational meeting for Handi-Van riders will be held at 10 a.m. at Kapolei Hale on September 23.