Funds released for MEO transport hub

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has released $500,000 for Maui Economic Opportunity Inc.’s transportation facility on 10 acres of former sugar cane land at Puunene.

The funding will go toward construction of the facility to provide a one-stop service for bus washing and vacuuming, according to an announcement from the Governor’s Office.

MEO provides county-subsidized, on-demand transportation services to preschool children, disadvantaged youth, senior citizens, low-income residents, people with disabilities and those with medical needs.

In June, contractor Goodfellow Bros. Inc. began work on the facility on land mostly donated by Alexander & Baldwin and located in the Maui Business Park along Puunene Avenue, between the A&B Sugar Museum and Zippy’s restaurant. It will be a “hub” transportation center, located away from Kahului’s tsunami zone, the ocean’s salty air and in a location where buses can be more easily dispatched to Kihei, Lahaina and Upcountry.

Until the new $4.25 million facility is completed, MEO continues to store and operate its buses on state-owned land on Vevau Street in Kahului. The nonprofit has more than 100 buses as well as 27 wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Overall funding includes $4 million from the state and $250,000 from Maui County.

The governor also released more than $2.5 million to other Hawaii-based nonprofits.

Those included: $1.5 million to the Friends of Shriners Hospital on Oahu, $435,000 to Hale Opio Kauai Inc., $250,000 for Friends of Iolani Palace, $230,000 for the Waikiki Community Center and $120,000 for the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

“We recognize that nonprofit organizations are the state’s partners in providing services that are important to the people of Hawaii,” Abercrombie said. “Through this collaboration, we are better able to address issues that range from pediatric health care, foster care and elderly assistance; to support for the arts and preservation of Hawaii’s most treasured landmarks.”