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UPDATE: Hawai‘i Island to Receive Over $500K for New Accessible Buses

April 4, 2018, 9:39 AM HST
* Updated April 4, 3:15 PM
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Hele-On Bus file photo.

UPDATED INFORMATION BELOW

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award $576,000 in federal funding to the County of Hawai‘i Mass Transit Agency, operator of the Hele-On Bus, for the purchase and deployment of new accessible transit buses.

“This investment in public transportation will improve people’s commutes, reduce traffic and costs to road maintenance, and help shrink our carbon footprint,” Sen. Schatz said.

The new accessible transit vehicles will replace existing equipment in the fleet that breaks down frequently and has exceeded its useful life. The Hele-On Bus System provides fixed route bus service in Hilo, Kona and across Hawai‘i Island.

UPDATED INFORMATION

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Mayor Harry Kim expressed deep gratitude to Sen. Schatz for this timely award to buy Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible buses.

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“These funds come at a very critical time for us, as we are trying to improve our level of service to the people who rely on our Mass Transit system,” Mayor Kim said. “We are really grateful to the Senator for seeing the need and securing the funds to help achieve this.”

The county had applied for a federal grant to purchase up to six replacement accessible buses that each have a 15 to 26 seats capacity.

The grant involves an 80-20 match, meaning that the federal funds pay for 80% of the purchase and county funds make up the rest.

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The $576,000 secured by Sen. Schatz will be matched by a 20% county portion—$144,000.

According to Mass Transit Administrator Maria Aranguiz, the county was in dire need of these smaller-sized buses.

The assumed cost of the buses is $120,000 to $140,000 each.

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