New Chinatown bus schedule draws complaints from businesses

CHINATOWN (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new city bus schedule in Chinatown is drawing complaints from surrounding businesses.

The City's Department of Transportation Services recently changed the time Hotel Street can close down for events from 6 p.m. Monday through Fridays, now to 7:30 p.m.

Merchants say the later time is costing money to hold popular events like First Fridays and Hallowbaloo.

"It seems kind of trivial because it is only an hour and a half, but for those of us who utilize the street and have events, there is a small window you're able to make your money back on how much it costs to even close a street," said Nicole Reid, owner of The Manifest and Royal Arcade Bars.

The City says the time change is to help accommodate the high bus ridership along Hotel Street, which is considered a Transit Mall. Only transit buses are allowed to pass through the corridor.

"Up until 7 p.m., we still saw over 1,000 people using Hotel Street," said Jon Nouchi, DTS deputy director. "That accounts for people still trying to get home and still going to places."

Reid said she found out about the time change in December, after she had already purchased permits, insurance and hire extra special duty officers for this year's first First Friday event in February.

She's upset the city didn't communicate with the community and businesses before implementing the time change.

"It wouldn't have been that big of a deal if we had some formal notice," said Reid.

"With the time change, when you push it back a little too far, it doesn't give people a chance to settle into the event environment and it affects crowd retention," said Amanada Kaku who frequents Chinatown.

"We want to be clear, that until someone comes in and requests a permit and meets with our street usage staff, there should be no assumptions made on what the conditions or terms are," said Nouchi. "DTS has to balance the needs of a very diverse community."

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