Many businesses along the rail line are taking a hit due to all the construction during this holiday shopping season. So the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) offered free shuttle rides on Sunday to help bring in customers.
The trolley shuttled shoppers from Aloha Stadium to 10 different locations in Pearl City and Aiea from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
HART executives said it is their way of giving back and supporting local businesses that have been suffering during construction.
Darrell Hanohano and his daughter Teigan were the first to step on board. Hanohano said it’s a great idea.
"I mean because with this rail work going on…there's businesses in Waimalu, they need a boost yeah. And nobody like driving in the traffic and stuff, so if you get a shuttle like this, I'm pretty sure everybody will use it," said Hanohano.
HART launched its "Shop and Dine on the Line campaign" a few months ago. Since then, rail authorities say more than 100 businesses joined the program offering discounts as a way to get customers in the door. HART's Deputy Executive Director said the free shuttle service is aimed to help alleviate some of the traffic and eliminate the stress of finding parking.
"I think that's just a much more easier way for people to enjoy the holidays, do some of their errands, as well as support our local businesses who are really struggling during these tough times as our construction, as well as any kind of construction goes along major highway corridors," said Brennon Morioka.
Steven Wong is the owner of Honolulu Kitchen in Waipahu. The Chinese fast-food restaurant specializes in deep-fried manapuas. Wong said since rail construction made its way to Farrington Highway, he has noticed a 15 to 25-percent decrease in revenue. Wong said he wished the shuttles stopped in Waipahu too.
"Any kind of service to relieve the traffic is gonna help. Too bad it doesn't stop here. If they stop right in front of my door, I'm sure I'm gonna benefit from that," said Wong.
Wong said he can't wait for construction to end. Until then, he said business owners like him just have to stick it out.
HART officials said this was the only scheduled free trolley and mini-bus ride. Plans on whether to continue will depend on sponsors, turnout and feedback.