Mar 13, 2014

Waxing Nostalgic: BusPlus

Twenty years ago, the last time that the idea of rail was gathering steam in Honolulu, Brook and I got to work with the big tour bus companies, Charlie’s Taxi and well known rail foe Cliff Slater on a project called BusPlus.

We met pretty much in secret, and weren’t “allowed” to say Slater was part of the meetings, lest we alert the rail proponents of the project.  The idea, called BusPlus, was for the big bus companies (Roberts, Grayline, Polynesian Adventure…) to help solve the traffic problem — in lieu of rail — by using the hours that visitors were’t travelling (and were coincidentally the peak traffic hours) to offer an “executive” bus service.  They planned to offer service to all of the well travelled areas, complete with coffee and newspapers, taking people to work and bringing them home.

In order to make sure that their business plan was accurate, BusPlus did a survey asking when people needed transportation to work.  They found that in the Waianae area that so many people had two jobs that they would need to travel early in the morning and late at night.  The sheer numbers of people that this applied to was surprising … I was understanding for the first time that Hawai`i’s unemployment rate does not come close to telling the real story.  Another thing we found out was that government employees paid only $30 a month for parking (even back then, that wasn’t much) and so it was going to be hard to get them out of their cars.

Once a plan was put together, we went to talk to Gary Gill at the City Council (his position at the time) and I must say he was not the type of civil servant I believed he should be (sorry, Gary, but you lectured us and didn’t listen…).

BusPlus never happened because the rail project was killed that year, with Arnold Morgado casting the last vote against rail, and one of the last votes of his political career.  Thank God for Arnold Morgado.

As everyone knows, the rail proponents spent the next decade getting ready to relaunch what I continue to think will be the biggest disaster in Hawai`i’s encounter with mankind.  And they have succeeded.  So I am waxing nostaligc for BusPlus, which I strongly believe would have been a huge part of the solution, and we would actually have had a shot at solving Honolulu’s traffic problems.

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Gloria. Circa 1955.



Gloria. Circa 2012.




Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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