Getting Out of Gridlock: Should UH start later?

Getting Out of Gridlock: Should UH start later?
Published: Sep. 23, 2016 at 9:30 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 25, 2016 at 2:07 PM HST
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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the Fall semester, 18,084 students enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Traffic planners believe if UH started school at 9 a.m. instead of 7:30, 5,000 cars could be eliminated from the morning rush.  Students don't balk at the idea.

"I think we need to find different ways to just adjust," Keely Choy said.

"I can see it possibly alleviating some traffic," Ioane Goodhue said.

Over the years, various lawmakers have pushed for a later start time for UH to loosen gridlock. Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayashi pushed for it when she ran for mayor in 2008.

"Whatever we can do to make it easier for people to get to work, for people to get their own kids to school, and for our students at UH to get to school -- whatever works we should try to do it," she said.

According to UH, 3,900 students have their first class at or before 9:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with 1,200 getting an early start on Tuesday and Thursday.

"We know that people feel the extra cars on the road," UH communications director Dan Meisenzahl said.

He said many students who start at 9 a.m. or later come to campus early anyway to find parking and eliminating early classes wouldn't change that.

"We're encouraging students to ride the bus. We've expanded the Rainbow Shuttle system to Kaimuki, to Makiki, it goes to Manoa," he said.

Representative Isaac Choy has chaired the House Higher Education committee. He thinks the solution is better class distribution.

"I think it's not the starting time," he said. "What we need to do is better utilize our facilities to make sure the classes are evenly distributed throughout the day."

If the university decided on a later start it would have to negotiate with the professor's union and other labor unions.

Meisenzahl said a change would hurt students the most.

"We have to make sure that we have a wide range of classes available all day so students can get the classes they need, so students can work night jobs, work day jobs, help support themselves and their education," he said.

UH sits close to some private schools. Should their starting times be adjusted?

That's another piece to the traffic puzzle.

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