HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city said cuts to bus service needed to be made to save money. Now the City Council is talking about giving away bus rides to senior citizens and the disabled.
Bill 58 would eliminate fares for single rides and the $30 fee for an annual bus pass for people 65 and older and the disabled.
"That would be wonderful for me," Leilani de la Paz said. "After I pay for this $30 I don't have any more money for the rest of the month, after I pay my bills."
She rides a wheelchair and uses both TheBus and TheHandi-Van. Under the bill she would ride both for free.
Council chairman Ernie Martin proposed the bill to help seniors on fixed incomes who rely on bus service.
"For me, I would ride it more, said Makiki resident Cindy Tran. "It's much more convenient. Why not use it if it's free?"
The free-ride proposal comes on the heels of bus rider complaints about route modifications and schedule changes.
Senior citizen Mike Powers buys a bus pass every year. He calls the bill "bribery."
"They're pandering to the seniors. They realize that the seniors lost one-third of the busses they take," he said. "We just have to look at what we're doing and not consider what sounds good at the moment," Hawaii Kai resident Natalie Iwasa told the council. "We have to really look at how are we going to pay for all this stuff? We can't keep giving it away."
"We're gathering information so we can better understand the financial implications of Bill 58," City Department of Transportation Services director Wayne Yoshioka said.
"For all these people that I know that don't go anywhere because they can't afford to go anywhere and they're home bound, it would be a wonderful idea," de la Paz said.
The full council passed the bill on first reading. It now goes to the council's budget committee.