Investigation prompts some access changes for Big Island bus

KAILUA-KONA (AP) — Prompted by a U.S. investigation, Big Island officials have agreed to make changes to the county’s bus system to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The investigation stemmed from a complaint from a rider that wheelchair lifts weren’t working on Hele-On buses, and other ADA compliance issues.

The county “frequently deployed buses with chronically inoperable lifts,” said an agreement signed this week by the county and Justice Department.

The agreement to change county policy and procedures forestalls a civil lawsuit, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.

The county agreed to immediately report inoperable lifts and take the vehicles out of service until the lifts are repaired.

Other changes include having the bus driver announce any stop on request of a rider with a disability, putting bus stops at locations that are more accessible and maintaining a complaint log.

“They did a full investigation and at the end of the day they commended our commitment to changing things even before they finished,” said Deputy Corporation Counsel Malia Hall. “We initiated changes early and often and it led to an amicable settlement.”