HONOLULU(KHON2) — Oahu Transit Services (OTS), which runs TheBus and TheHandi-Van, has fallen victim to a cyberattack. Officials are looking into whether passengers’ sensitive information is at risk. The FBI and secret service are now investigating.

The cyberattack occurred around 1 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, and crippled the City’s online and on-demand TheHandi-Van services. Roger Morton, Director of Transportation Services (DTS) for the City and County of Honolulu, said all attempts to reboot the system failed and that it could be a ransom attack.

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“We do not have any specific demand for money to do that,” Morton explained. “But it has all the trappings of a ransom demand and that’s certainly a possibility.”

Local and federal law enforcement are currently investigating.

“There is a concern over breaches of financial information and secret service are the investigating arm of the treasury,” Morton added.

Morton also said they do not know if sensitive rider information was compromised, but they cut the connection to other servers out of caution.

“OTS servers are completely separate from the city servers,” he stated. “However, the city has taken action to minimize any breach within the city servers.”

OTS is currently trying to rebuild the servers, but they do not know when things will be fixed.

“I would say for the next day or so we will be relying upon our improvised systems,” said Morton.

TheBus is still in operation with little to no delay in service; however, TheHandi-Van is unable to access, view or print its customer reservations.

“The system breach has caused a problem in TheHandi-Van system particularly where it is necessary for us to know who to pick up and where to take them. Without that information, we have set up a manual system that has worked remarkably well today.”

Roger Morton, Director of Transportation Services for the City and County of Honolulu

Christy Pak said she was supposed to get picked up at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and that she waited over an hour for a ride that never came.

“They got to be there, but they never showed up,” Pak said. “The computer (problems) whatevers. I don’t know what’s going on.”

She said she did not want to call in and waste the whole day waiting for TheHandi-Van, so she went to TheBus stop and caught a regular bus.

Another Handi-Van rider, who asked not to be identified, said her ride was late and when she called she could not get through. She said she kept getting a message that said, “All circuits are busy.”

Morton said they were able to “accommodate everyone who called in,” as well as acknowledged there may have been some people who were impacted. Some TheBus riders did not even realize there was a problem but had noticed the app was not working right.

Honolulu resident Howard Lesser said he relies on the TheBus app.

“I always check my app for TheBus eta,” said Lesser. “I noticed it wasn’t working, and I thought maybe I’m in a dead-zone or something.”

“It is frustrating,” said Devonte Nicholas, as he sat and waited for his bus. “But at the same time it’s whatever. I know when TheBus comes.”

TheHandi-Van customers who are scheduled for rides on Thursday, Dec. 9, are urged to call 808-456-5555 to schedule same-day pickups.

For TheHandi-Van riders who require rides for Friday, Dec. 10:

  • Rides scheduled before 9 a.m. should call TheHandi-Van reservations on Thursday, Dec. 9, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
  • All rides after 9 a.m. may call on Friday, Dec. 10, starting at 5 a.m.

“The call volumes are a little bit longer than normal,” said Morton. “But they are in a very manageable area, which we’re very happy that OTS has been able to step up their reservation taking. They’re handling the ridership dispatching manually, and so far, they’re doing a great job.”

DTS said customers will not be able to purchase HOLO cards or passes at this time and are urged to go to Satellite City Hall or other retail locations. The list of retailers for HOLO cards can be found on this website.

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The City’s plan of action, as part of recovery for Thursday’s rides, will be staging vehicles throughout the island so they may be dispatched to wait for customers with minimal delay, according to DTS.