With more students returning to class, traffic expected to return to pre-pandemic levels

Back-to-school traffic is back ― and in a big way.
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:36 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An unwelcome aspect of pre-COVID life is about to make its return next week: Back-to-school traffic.

About 50,000 additional commuters are expected to hit the road as the University of Hawaii and private schools go back in session and on Monday, state and city leaders offered ways to “Beat the School” jam.

“We all know what it’s been like historically to have the cars on the road,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

“The back to school, the kind of delays and everything else. We want to try to do everything we can to mitigate that and I think this is a big step forward.”

Get ready: Back-to-school traffic is on the horizon as private schools, UH return

For the first time since the pandemic started, Blangiardi, Gov. David Ige and transportation leaders assembled at the Joint Traffic Management Center to remind the public that commutes are about to change.

“When UH starts in session, the independent schools start up again, that 25 minutes turns into a 45-minute drive,” said Ed Sniffen, Department of Transportation highways division deputy director.

“So we all got to remember there’s got to be additional time. We got to give ourselves in the morning to ensure we get to where we need to on time.”

TheBus is making a number of changes to help ease that crunch, including adding additional express routes at 25 different locations around Oahu.

Also, starting next Monday through Aug. 26, all fares will be waved with the use of a Holo Card, which are are available for free until next Friday.

“We’ve had a great bus system for decades really and we still have a great bus system,” said Roger Morton, city director of the Department of Transportation Services.

But ridership has dropped 40% during COVID, and the city is hoping to woo riders back.

“We want to make sure that those riders that left us during COVID, and those that are new to the island and aren’t used to public transportation, this is an opportunity for our old riders and potential new riders to come back.”

Right now, several major roadway projects are happening around Oahu, including on the Pali Highway, Likelike Highway, Wahiawa, and parts of the North shore.

But DOT says work won’t be happening during peak traffic hours and if needed, it has the ability to adjust traffic signals on surface streets.

“When there are situations that occur outside, we can control 80% of the signals that are on the system on Oahu remotely,” Sniffen said. “So if there’s a situation that comes up that requires more capacity in different areas or adjustments to the signals, we can do it directly from here.”

More information on updated bus routes and Holo cards is available by clicking here.

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