Hana side is running on empty

Lone gas station closed for 10 days; fuel truck offering limited service

Hana’s only gas station has shut down for 10 days, though a Maui Oil truck will provide gas at the site for a limited time each day, general manager Marni Aina said Monday, the first day of the closure.

The temporary closure of Hana Pit Stop is part of a Texaco rebranding that’s occurring at all Chevron stations statewide after Island Energy Services, Texaco’s Hawaii licensor, purchased Chevron’s Hawaii assets in 2016.

“Part of that rebrand for our particular gas station is replacing the fuel dispensers, so it does have to be closed for 10 days,” Aina said. “However, we’ve arranged with Maui Oil to dispense from a truck on site every day for four hours.”

Aina explained that for most stations getting rebranded, “it’s just a cosmetic thing, but any of the older gas stations are having to get into compliance” with the company’s safety guidelines.

Island Energy spokesperson Carina Tagupa said a Maui Oil fuel truck will be on site from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. every day of the closure. However, Aina said earlier that the truck would offer service from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and could not be reached late Monday afternoon to clarify the difference in times.

The truck will be able to service one customer at a time, according to Aina, who hopes to have the station back open May 25.

“I know it’s hard for people, and we feel really, really badly about that,” Aina said. “Unfortunately, to keep the gas station open we have to do this work. . . . It’s really hard out here since it’s the only gas station. A lot of people don’t go to town for gas because of our remoteness.”

The convenience store will remain open during regular business hours — 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sunday, when it closes at 6 p.m.

The station usually services about 200 customers a day, according to Aina. Regular gas prices as of Monday were $5.48 a gallon, with midgrade fuel at $5.58 and diesel at $5.78.

Neil Hasegawa, owner of the nearby Hasegawa General Store, said there was some confusion because the gas station sent out notices saying the closure would start today.

“That wen’ jam a lot of people up, thinking, ‘OK, I’m going to go today and I can get in and out,’ “ Hasegawa said. “It gets crazy over there when there’s a lot of people because there’s only so much room.”

Aina confirmed that the station had arranged for work to start today, but Texaco representatives showed up a day early.

Hasegawa said some people came into the store frustrated because they arrived after the tanker had left. One person who lives right outside of Hana worried that he had “barely enough gas to go home and back tomorrow.” The general store filled up its forklift on Monday “just to make sure,” Hasegawa said. Workers usually fill up the store’s other vehicles during trips to Central Maui.

The gas station has closed in the past for other types of work, “but this is the longest period we have encountered since I’ve been involved,” said Aina, who has been with the company since 2010 and became the general manager 18 months ago.

Aina is also the general manager of Travaasa, the resort that also owns the town center and the Hana Pit Stop. She said she’s especially concerned about getting the word out to visitors about the gas situation.

The office of Council Member Bob Carroll, who holds the East Maui residency seat, said Monday that it was aware of the situation and had sent out notices to the community and to businesses. Lisa Paulson, executive director of the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association, said she planned to notify businesses as well as a rental car company that is a member of the association. Paulson said it’s hard to notify all visitors and suggested that perhaps the Maui Police Department could put up a notification board in Paia to let motorists know to fill up their tanks.

Aina said the project “will improve service in the long run.” The fuel dispensers will be newer, faster and more dependable, and credit card processing will also improve.

“In the long term it’s a good project. This part is hard,” Aina said. “We’ll do our best to make sure everybody has the fuel they need.”

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com. Melissa Tanji contributed to this report.

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