HONOLULU (KHON2) — Big Island transit riders will now have the chance to ride the Hele-On Bus for free.

Free ridership was made possible after the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency received millions of dollars in federal funds.

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“There are a myriad of issues contributing to a growing cost of living, so it is our hope that providing free transportation services to our residents will help alleviate some of that burden,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth.

The department said the goal of implementing fare-free transit is to also rebuild ridership lost over the past ten years due to the reliability issues of the transit system.

“Higher ridership translates into increased Federal and State formula funding and creates a
positive feedback loop for Hele-On to improve and grow the island’s mobility network,” said Mass Transit Administrator & General Manager, John Andoh.

Hele-On service will be fare-free from June 3 until Dec. 31, 2023.

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The federal funds included $4,500,000 through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and $1,879,773 from the American Rescue Plan Act from the Federal Transit Administration by way of the Hawai’i Department of Transportation.