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Short-staffed The Kaua‘i Bus to halt Sunday service

LIHU‘E — The wheels on the bus are taking a day off.

The Kaua‘i Bus officials announced last week that all Sunday bus services, including paratransit, will be suspended indefinitely due to an ongoing staffing shortage beginning Aug. 27.

“Despite increased efforts to fill our vacant positions, the ongoing staffing shortage has continued to intensify, and to keep the safety of our riders and employees a top priority, Kaua‘i Bus service needs to be reduced starting later this month,” said Celia Mahikoa, executive for the county
Transportation Agency.

Recognizing that halting any bus services, even temporarily, has an islandwide impact, Mahikoa added that the decision was not an easy one to make.

“We understand that many riders in our community rely on our service, so this decision was not made lightly,” she said. “All other reasonable options have been expended.”

The county Transportation Agency said in a news release that officials chose to suspend Sunday busing services after conducting a thorough review of operations.

According to the county, Sunday bus services receive the lowest ridership of the week with an average of 10 passengers per route — less than half of the average 25 passenger ridership per route on weekdays. Saturday busing services also see more riders than Sunday, with an average of 13 passengers per route.

“The temporary removal of Sunday service will help maintain reliable scheduled bus service throughout the week, while minimizing the negative effects on bus riders and our current bus drivers,” Mahikoa said.

Sunday bus service will remain suspended “until staffing has returned to sufficient levels,” the agency said.

The Kaua‘i Bus currently has 49 bus drivers on staff, although 43 drivers are currently on active rotation. The agency has eight vacant driver positions available and is actively seeking applicants.

The Transportation Agency encourages anyone interested in applying for a bus driver position to visit

The decision to suspend Sunday busing operations on Kaua‘i comes only weeks after the state Department of Education announced that 14 schools across the state — including Kapa‘a High, Kapa‘a Middle, Kapa‘a Elementary and Hanalei schools — would see school bus services either completely or partially suspended during the 2023-24 school year due to a shortage of qualified school bus drivers.

The department has made available subsidized county bus passes for impacted students as part of the Expanding Ridership to Educate Students in Schools (EXPRESS) program.

Additionally, parents can to apply to receive mileage reimbursement for driving their children to school when a county bus is not available, although the department said those requests would be reviewed and approved on a “case-by-case basis.”

An estimated 250 Kaua‘i students and 1,130 O‘ahu students are expected to be impacted, according to the department.

“We ask our students and families for their continued patience and understanding, and we truly appreciate the support of our county partners in making county bus routes a priority option for our students,” said Department of Education Assistant Superintendent Randy Tanaka.


Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or
Source: The Garden Island

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