City detours buses after hour-long rail construction delays

Published: Feb. 12, 2015 at 8:05 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 12, 2015 at 11:59 PM HST
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PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After rail transit construction in Pearl City delayed some city bus routes by an hour or more during the afternoon commute, the city is detouring six routes around the bottlenecked area.

Commuters who use Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City have already endured slowdowns for months because of rail construction that has closed several traffic lanes.

So some bus riders who already can take an hour to hour and a half to get from Waikiki to Ewa Beach or Makaha have been delayed further, taking up to two and a half hours to get home during the afternoon commute.

"It's really bad. Sometimes I get mad because I am late already to go home, yeah?" said Monica Paino, who was waiting for a city bus on Kamehameha Highway near Acacia Road to take her home to Ewa Beach.

The man who runs The Bus said for the last six months, rail transit lane closures had already delayed bus routes going through that part of Pearl City, especially during the afternoon drive time.

"We just added a tremendous amount of onboard-the-vehicle time for the customers and the customers were spending an extra hour on the bus, and no one likes that," said Roger Morton, president and general manager of The Bus.

But when the rail project began extra lane closures near the Acacia Road intersection Monday, Morton said things got worse, so during the peak afternoon commute, the city began detouring six of its bus routes that pass through Pearl City from Honolulu to places like Makaha, Ewa Beach and Wahiawa.

"Primarily our long-distance bus routes were not operating properly, they were taking too long to get through, we couldn't keep them on time," Morton said.

The city has posted signs at affected bus stops, letting riders know about the detours that run from 2 to 7 p.m. each weekday in the West-bound direction from Kaahumanu Road to Waiawa Road.

A special shuttle service runs to serve these eight bus stops along Kamehameha Highway during the afternoon commute when most of the long-distance routes are diverted to the H1 freeway to avoid the traffic mess.

"We've had a number of folks who have called our staff and have said how much they appreciate bypassing the construction and it gets them home maybe 30 or up to an hour earlier," Morton said.

Some bus commuters are avoiding the peak afternoon traffic problem by doing all their errands earlier in the day.

"For me, I have to make my own way so I can go home early. That's why I have to start early," said Norma Favella, who works at the Pearl City Zippy's restaurant and commutes by bus home to Ewa.

This portion of the construction and detours are scheduled to last another six to eight months.

Similar slowdowns and detours will affect other portions of the rail transit route as it gets closer to downtown Honolulu.

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