homepage logo

Community offers insight on West Maui transit hub

By Staff | Feb 23, 2012

LAHAINA – On Jan. 27, my staff and I held an informal hearing at Lahaina Civic Center to discuss the potential relocation of the West Maui transit hub from its current location at the Wharf Cinema Center on Luakini Street. Everyone was invited to share their mana’o about this challenging issue that surrounds and affects so many in the West Maui district.

We had a great turnout for a Friday night with approximately 30 people in attendance, 19 of which signed up to testify. I thank the community for coming out and sharing your stories and points of view with us. Some of you even came with your families and directly from work, and your participation is much appreciated.

I would also like to formally thank Director Jo Anne Johnson-Winer, Department of Transportation; Director William Spence, Planning Department; Deputy Director Rowena Dagdag-Andaya, Department of Public Works; Executive Assistant Zeke Kalua, Office of the Mayor; and Lieutenant Jason Rego, Maui Police Department, who made themselves available to listen, comment and gather public input.

A special thank you to Zeke Kalua for contributing and setting up the sound equipment for the meeting, and to our volunteers: Kathy Corcoran at the sign-in table, Kenny Hultquist for taping the meeting for future viewing on Akaku, and to Gordon Cockett and my mother for providing an ono dinner for the community.

This meeting was a chance for the public to learn more about the five locations being proposed, as well as to vote for their preferred location, submit questions and to testify.

Director Johnson-Winer was kind enough to print out enlarged aerial photographs of the locations being considered, which include the harbor, a site across the street from King Kamehameha III Elementary School, a site across the street from 505 Front Street, a site near the old Pioneer Mill, and a site near Lahaina Aquatic Center.

Throughout the course of discussion, it has become apparent that there is some confusion about the difference between a transit hub and a bus stop. Just to clarify, a bus stop is a designated place where buses stop for passengers to board or leave a bus. A transit hub is a place where passengers are exchanged between two bus routes.

Currently the West Maui transit hub is located at the Wharf Cinema Center on Luakini Street. The item that was referred to my Infrastructure Management Committee at the beginning of the term pertains to the possible relocation of the transit hub, not the bus stop itself. It is important to note this, because regardless of whether or not the transit hub is relocated, there would still be a bus stop at this location.

After attendees signed in at the front door, they were offered a colored sticker that distinguished them as the “user group” they most identified with. We had a different color assigned for each special interest category – Luakini Street resident, bus ridership, 505 Front Street affiliate, Wharf Cinema Center affiliate, Lahaina Aquatic Center/Boys and Girls Club/Homeless Resource Center affiliates, Lahaina Harbor business affiliate, school affiliate, and “other.”

Attendees that wished to “vote” were directed to a designated area where aerial photographs were set up representing the five different proposed site locations and the current location at the Wharf Cinema Center.

According to the votes that were recorded, the attending residents from Luakini Street (eight) and one “other” (nine in total) voted for the harbor location; three members of our Maui Bus ridership voted for the Pioneer Mill location as well as one school affiliate (four total); three members of our Maui Bus ridership voted for the transit hub to remain at its current location; two members of the Lahaina Aquatic Center/Boys & Girls Club/Homeless Resource Center affiliates voted for the site near the aquatic center; and there were zero votes for the site across the street from King Kamehameha III Elementary School and zero votes for the site across the street from 505 Front Street.

After the “voting” was complete, our panel heard from testifiers on a wide array of concerns and helpful ideas. To summarize: reversal of traffic flow on Luakini Street was helpful; the Wharf location is convenient for riders; the reversal of the traffic flow has presented a worse impact to the surrounding area; bus exhaust may be a source of health concerns; smaller buses should travel in the residential neighborhood areas, keeping larger buses confined to the highways; the current hub site presents traffic congestion issues;

putting a hub near a school would be dangerous for young students; buses are destroying residential roads; and fears about speeding and a lack of sidewalks.

Several people agreed that Lahaina Cannery Mall should be an alternative location for consideration, and we heard a good idea regarding a possible traffic flow study to analyze circulation patterns and ridership needs.

All in all, I would say that the meeting served its intended purpose as a good starting point. We gathered great community input and heard your concerns and some very helpful ideas. This will be an ongoing discussion as we determine the best plan of action and assess funding sources in order to move forward with addressing the community’s concerns.

As I mentioned before, this is an item currently assigned to the Infrastructure Management Committee. If you were unable to attend the meeting and would like to provide your own testimony, please send it to im.committee@mauicounty.us.