COVID relief funds lead to free Hele-on bus rides for Hawaii Island community

HFD is investigating after two people were found dead and another seriously injured following a house fire in Pauoa.
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 1:02 PM HST
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HAWAII ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Hawaii Island, bus riders won’t have to pay to ride for the next two and a half years.

County officials said Hele-On passengers will get free commutes on all rides thanks to an allotment of $6 million of COVID relief funds heading to the county’s.

The money is coming fully from the federal government with no obligation for the county to pay it back. Once all the funds are received, the county says the fare-free initiative should last until Dec. 21, 2024.

“We are extremely excited to offer this improved, efficient, and critical resource to our community at no cost,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said. “There are a myriad of issues contributing to a growing cost of living, so it is our hope that providing free transportation services to our residents will help alleviate some of that burden.”

“We understand that Hele-On has had a bad rap in the past but would like to encourage our residents to try it out; they may be pleasantly surprised,” Roth added.

Hawaii County is the first in the state to offer free transit to riders.

Local officials say the money will also be used to implement a new transit service network previously planned in 2018. That will allow for expanded bus service in Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Waimea, Puna, and Ka’u areas of the island.

“Higher ridership translates into increased Federal and State formula funding and creates a positive feedback loop for Hele-On to improve and grow the island’s mobility network,” John Andoh, Mass Transit Administrator & General Manager, added.

For more information on bus routes and more, click here.

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