County looking for buyers for small decommissioned buses

Maui County wants to sell eight of its smaller six- to eight-passenger buses that have “outlived their useful lives,” according to Department of Transportation Director Jo Anne Winer.

“We put so much mileage on the vehicles,” she said. “Many of them have been on the road for quite some time.”

In a request for sealed bids for the disposal of public property, the county lists all eight buses as not being in working order. Each has an “upset price” of $1. Bids are due July 16.

The buses will be available for public viewing at two Kahului locations on July 9 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility on Amala Place, and from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Roberts Hawaii baseyard at 711 Kaonawai Place.

When asked who might want the old buses, Winer said that in the hands of a skilled mechanic, the vehicles could be cannibalized to take two or three old vehicles and make one usable one with their parts.

“We’re hoping to get them off our hands at this point,” Winer said, adding that the county doesn’t have a place to store the decommissioned buses.

Also, with some creativity, the buses could be put to other uses – with the seats taken by someone, or they could display signage or make a “great little house,” she said.

“I don’t even know if that’s even permissible,” Winer said of the house idea. “We’re hoping people would be creative.”

She said that it’s not feasible for the county to repair the buses and return them to service because the vehicles, especially when they primarily serve disabled or elderly riders, are driven extensively and need to be reliable and not subject to needing frequent repairs.

“It’s really tough when a bus breaks down and you have to scramble,” Winer said.

She said she’s hopeful that the county can get “several thousand dollars” from the batch of retired buses.

The county’s bus transportation system will not be short-handed with the loss of the old buses, she said.

Some have been replaced, and others will be replaced with an order for new buses next fiscal year, Winer said.

Ten large buses will be ordered next fiscal year using two federal grants totaling $2.5 million, plus the county’s 20 percent share, she said.

Ridership demand continues to rise, Winer added. Two years ago, the county’s bus system had 2.3 million boardings, and now that figure has risen 500,000 to 2.8 million boardings, she said.

Within a week or two, the county will put into service its first double-decker bus, with a seating capacity of 90 passengers, Winer said.

The bus will first go into service in Kihei, where there’s greater height clearance for the 14-foot-tall vehicle, she said. Although there’s greater passenger demand in West Maui, there are problems with low height clearance in places in Lahaina’s historic district, such as Luakini Street and some other narrow streets.

The route in Kihei has required some tree-trimming and the relocation of some overhead electric, phone and cable television lines in Wailea and on South Kihei Road, she said.

The overhead lines need to be at least 16 feet high to give the bus a 2-foot clearance, she said.

“You don’t want to be cutting it too close,” she said.

For more information on the buses for sale, contact Marc Takamori, the Transportation Department’s deputy director, at 270-7511.

* Brian Perry can be reached at