Riders vent frustrations over Handi-Van delays - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Riders vent frustrations over Handi-Van delays

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Handi-Van riders have been driven past the point of frustration and they gave the City an earful at a hearing today.  They're tired of waiting so long for their van to pick them up.

"A thousand years in purgatory is hell!" said Anna Bain, Handi-Van rider from Waikiki.

"I am so fed up with you guys. Then you wonder why we get sick and die. You guys are doing it to us. You're making us wait so long for you," said Rose Pou, Handi-Van rider from Kapahulu. "What do you want us to do pass out on you guys? I've had friends die because they're waiting on you guys. And you guys don't show up when you say you are. Why should we make the damn reservations if you're not going to show up when you say you are!"

"I want you to refute that! Right now in front of everybody!" shouted Richard De Conti, Handi-Van rider from Kalihi.

This room full of Handi-Van riders is angry over the new system the City implemented one month ago.  Instead of making a reservation seven days in advance it's now two days.  It's supposed to be more accurate but users say they're waiting by the curb more than an hour.

"This is a mockery. What time do you want to go? You can't have it but you can have what you don't want. Before the time you want or after the time you don't want. You need to change the script," said Bain.

"I understand. I can sense when you speak I hear your frustration. I understand that. But we're still committed to make this a better system," said Michael Formby, Honolulu Transportation Services Director.

The City says it's disappointed in its new Handi-Van software system saying productivity has dropped.  However the new software is used in 70 percent of cities in the country.  Here in Hawaii they say unprecedented construction traffic and lane closures, combined with huge demand has caused delays.

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news but we are never going to be exactly on time. I can't drive from one part of the island to another part of the island with any certainty that I will be there within 10 or 15 minutes," said Roger Morton, Oahu Transit Services Director.

Morton says there are 130 vans on the road a day to pickup 3,500 people.  He admits they need more people.  Handi-Van wants to hire 30-40 more drivers and three more call center receptionists. They've also increased the number of cab rides to supplement service from 450 to 650.

"This is a tough business. This is a very tough business," said Morton "Sometimes thing go right and we're early. Sometimes things go wrong and we're late."

"What we're going through right now is the transition. I believe what each and every one of you is experiencing is unacceptable. But I also believe we will get there and we will do better. I believe that," said Formby.

"Mahalo for holding. There are five callers ahead of you," said the phone recording when calling the Handi-Van hotline.

Just to illustrate their point, dozens of people needed a ride after the meeting at the State Capitol.  The longest wait was 55 minutes.

Director Formby says it's not a one way street.  If the problems don't get better they can switch back to the old system, but there were problems with that one as well.  He still believes the new system will eventually improve.

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