HONOLULU (KHON2) — The City is looking at Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki as the next location to introduce bus-only lanes, officials said it will mean a quicker commute for bus riders, but some who live and work in the area question the proposal.
Kuhio Avenue is one of the three main arterial roadways in Waikiki, and it could see changes as soon as next year. The Honolulu Complete Streets Administrator Renee Espiau said, after the success of the bus-only lanes on King Street, the right lanes on Kuhio Avenue, from Kapahulu Avenue to Olohana Street, could be designated for buses.
More information about the proposed changes on Kuhio Avenue could be found, here.
“The right lanes are proposed to be used for city buses,” Espiau said. “As well as for private trolleys and private coach buses. And then, of course, all of our bus-only lanes allow, right-turning vehicles to come in.”
Honolulu Complete Streets said bus travel times improved by 20-to-30% on King Street after the bus-only lanes were designated.
Espiau said, “Really our hope in the long term is to encourage people to actually get out of their cars and switch to some other modes such as transit, such as biking if we’re able to provide more attractive, more convenient, and safer facilities for them.”
Espiau said the changes to Kuhio Avenue are simple and inexpensive, but not everyone is on board.
Waikiki resident Kat C. predicts even more back-ups on Kuhio Avenue, especially on days Kalakaua Avenue closes for special occasions.
She said, “It’s going to be tough because if there’s only one lane for people to drive and they close down Kalakaua every other weekend.”
The Waikiki Business Improvement District Executive Director Jennifer Nakayama said she sees pros and cons with the proposed changes. She said workers riding the bus into Waikiki could benefit, but some in the business community are concerned about impacts on other roads.
Nakayama said, “Whatever is done on Kuhio, if it is seen in the best interests of Waikiki or the community as a whole, then to make sure that we’re looking at — well, what is the effects on Ala Wai? And what are the effects on Kalakaua, and all the side streets in between.”
Espiau said they plan on doing more community outreach with residents and workers in Waikiki, but the project is nearly a go.
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“Gotten our environmental clearances, we’ve gotten some exemptions from relevant permits,” Espiau said. “And we are going to continue consulting with different parties in the community to make sure we’re designing the project to be as responsive as possible.”