EXCLUSIVE: Handi-Van starting new policy for chronic no-shows

EXCLUSIVE: Handi-Van starting new policy for chronic no-shows
Published: Oct. 10, 2013 at 9:13 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 10, 2013 at 9:45 PM HST
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Mike Formby
Mike Formby

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Habitual no-show riders of the city's Handi-Van para transit service will be temporarily banned from getting rides under a policy set to begin November 1.

The Handi-Van said about six and a half percent of its daily rides are no-shows, meaning the passenger isn't there or declines the ride once the driver arrives.

"It's a very small percentage of riders, but the impact to all the other riders when they go to the house or the apartment and they no-show is significant," said City Transportation Director Mike Formby.

He said the new policy is aimed at the small number of people with excessive no-shows, such as one man who doesn't show up for half of the Handi-Van rides he's reserved.

If passengers are no-shows on 20 percent or more of their rides for one month, they will be sent a warning letter.  If they continue the same level of no-shows for two months, the city will restrict them to making reservations only 24 hours in advance.

If the chronic no-show activity continues for three months in a row, their Handi-Van service will be suspended for 15 days.

"So the goal is to get service improved by asking people to conform their conduct to the rules and if you conform your conduct to the rules, everybody gets to benefit," Formby said.

Milton Kubo of Makiki has been taking the Handi-Van since he suffered a series of strokes and seizures five years ago.

He knows how frustrating it can be when fellow passengers are no-shows.

"After they picked me up, they went to the next stop.  Person wasn't there.  Went to the next stop.  Person wasn't there.  Three in a row, literally," said Kubo, who is vice chair of a citizen's Handi-Van riders' advisory group.

But he said it's sometimes impossible for disabled users of the Handi-Van to call the agency two hours before a scheduled ride to cancel, because they don't have a cell phone or are stuck at a doctor's appointment or exam that runs very late.

Kubo said Handi-Van should allow passengers who've waited an hour and a half or more for a pickup to get their $2 ride for free.

Kubo said other riders are frustrated with long waits on the cell phone when they call to change or cancel a Handi-Van ride, as he was one day in Moiliili.

"I was still on hold, almost two hours and 15 minutes and nobody picked up the phone.  And then I can understand why passengers would feel that way.  Why call? Cause I'm going to be put on hold," Kubo said.

The city said people who can't get through to Handi-Van or are sick will be excused from their no-shows.

"I think the vast majority of the people, 80 percent of them, will favor the policy because they're not the ones that are offending the policy," Formby said.

He said passengers who receive a notice of suspension of service will be able to appeal the decision.

The city posted memos about the policy change in Handi-Vans earlier this month.

The service has been plagued with van break-downs because of an aging fleet that has not seen new vans go into service for three years because of procurement disputes.

Formby said about 18 percent of the Handi-Van's vehicles were down for routine or problem maintenance Thursday.

He said 99 new vans are arriving early next year and are scheduled to go into service by early summer.

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