Residents urged to speak up on public transportation concerns

How can the Maui Bus service facilitate commuting and better serve the other transportation needs of local residents and businesses?

The Pukalani Community Association has invited key county transportation officials and policymakers to its meeting on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. Council Member Stacy

Crivello, who chairs the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee, Director of Transportation Jo Anne Johnson Winer and Transportation Coordinator Darren Konno will be available to hear concerns and answer questions.

Concerned members of the public organized to reactivate the Pukalani Community Association in September, and the issue of bus routes became the top priority. The Upcountry Bus Route and the Kula Villager Route, which started Jan. 1, are two bus-service systems that serve Pukalani residents.

A transfer point was originally placed within private property at the Pukalani Terrace Shopping Center. Residents reportedly left their vehicles in the center’s parking lot before catching a ride on the Maui Bus, and that became a concern for the center’s management, which also raised security concerns.

The county Department of Transportation moved the transfer point and bus stop to Pukalani Street, a county road, in front of the shopping center. The Upcountry route has an estimated 10,000 boardings per month, and buses stop every 90 minutes.

According to residents, the new bus stop poses dangerous conditions for drivers coming out of the shopping center and nearby community center, and for pedestrians trying to cross the street. The buses also block sightlines for drivers and pedestrians.

Donna Clayton, president of the Pukalani Community Association, has emphasized the need for public transportation in the area. Her group is willing to help find solutions for the problems, as evidenced by the upcoming meeting.

Another concern to be discussed at the meeting is Maui Bus use of Pukalani’s Iolani Street. Residents deem the street too narrow for 40-foot buses and complain about the noise and exhaust caused by the daily revving of engines.

It’s been suggested that the county consider using the existing space at the Tavares Community Center for the buses to turn around and return to Old Haleakala Highway. But the community center’s parking lot may also be too narrow and frequently hosts community events that could be unduly interrupted by buses.

Another proposal is to have the buses turn around in lower Pukalani by the golf course. But the same problems may arise at a different location.

The Maui County General Plan directs policymakers to “expand ridership of transit systems,” “integrate public-transit facilities as design elements in new and existing communities,” and “create attractive, conveniently located park-and-ride facilities.” With the benefit of public input, the county can meet these goals.

I hope to see you at the community center in Pukalani a week from Tuesday night to talk about the Maui Bus.

If you can’t make the meeting, tweet your comments using the hashtag #MauiBus. The council’s Twitter handle is @mauicounty. You may also call my office at (808) 270-7939.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani/Kula/Ulupalakua area residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.