Hele-On Bus Service Answers Questions

As stated previously, Roberts Tours and Transportation became the new Hele-On Contractor on April 1, 2020. Since they took over, we have received emails and calls regarding different issues. We’d like to answer them now.

Q – Is Hele On still running?

A – Yes.  We added some buses on April 1st then we made changes on April 9.  On that date we cancelled routes with zero ridership, combined routes, and sent extra buses to an afternoon run from the South Kohala Resorts to Hilo because of the large number of riders and we needed to ensure that we were practicing social distancing to the fullest extent possible. Roberts is operating many routes right now because of the shortage of county buses. We will place our buses in service once they are operable.

Q – Why are we being asked to call Roberts?

A – In the new contract, Roberts has special personnel assigned to Hele-On. Their dispatchers are available 7 a.m. to 5:30 pm. Monday through Saturday. Roberts employs all drivers not the County. Also, Roberts has a special program that can track where their buses are and they will have firsthand knowledge. The county will have a new program for all new buses but we only have four new ones (the fourth should be on base today) and we will be installing that program. It may take time because of the pandemic and the company is on the mainland but we will let you know when it is fully operational. However the buses can be put in to service without that technology. We hope to put at least two buses in service either the end of April or May 1st.

Q – Can we still call Mass Transit?

A – Of course. Mass Transit still oversees the Hele-On bus system. Most of our staff is very knowledgeable about Hele-On however there is one person who is a volunteer who hasn’t been trained in the Hele-On routes. She will either transfer the call to one of our other staff or to Roberts as they can also answer questions.

Q – Why are Roberts buses at the Hawaii Volcano National Park. Are they doing tours there?

A – Roberts are using their own buses for several routes if our county buses are not available. The Park is one of our stops. Even though the Park is closed riders will still wait there. The buses cannot go in to the park itself but it will turn in to pick up and drop off riders. NO TOURS are being conducted as the park is closed.

Q – Why are we still going to the South Kohala Resorts area, including the Four Seasons if they are closed?

A – Not all staff has been laid off. Some housekeeping and landscaping staff are still working. We will continue to assist these riders to and from work to the fullest extent possible.

Q – How are we practicing social distancing?

A – We are limiting the amount of riders that can be in the office at one time, depending on the bus size. Also, for the safety of the driver, nobody can sit within two rows behind the driver.

Q – What about sanitizing the buses?

A – Each county bus is equipped with a hand sanitizer and wipes. Gloves are available for the drivers. Disinfectants are also available between routes. The buses that return to the county baseyard are cleaned and sanitized. Roberts has their own sanitization procedures. The county supplied them with gloves and other supplies as available.

We hope this answers some of your questions.

Again, please be safe and healthy. We’re all in this together.

Brenda Carreira

Mass Transit Administrator

Hele-On Announces Route Changes

The Hele-On bus service on the Big Island of Hawaii announces the following route changes effective April 9 to 30, 2020, with holiday schedule on April 10.
Some of the busses being used are Robert’s Tour buses.

All other routes will run as regularly scheduled: 

HILO to S. KOHALA RESORTS Routes: 

  • 03:15 AM Hilo to S. Kohala Resort to Kona – will operate 1 bus
  • 03:35 AM Hilo to S. Kohala Resort to Kona – will operate 2 buses
  • 0440 & 0450 Hilo to S. Kohala Resorts – will be COMBINED, to start at 04:50 AM  (dropping off at Hilton & Marriott)
  • 0500 & 0505 Hilo to S. Kohala Resorts – will be  COMBINED to start at 05:05 AM (drop off at Mauna Kea Resort, Hapuna Prince, Shops at Mauna Lani, Fairmont Orchid, Hilton & Marriott)
  • 7:15 PM Hilo to S. Kohala Resorts – will use SPED Van

S. KOHALA RESORTS to HILO Routes:

  • 3:05 PM S. Kohala Resort to Hilo  – will have 3 buses with pick ups at: 

          3:05 PM  – Fairmont Orchid

          3:10 PM  – Shops at Mauna Lani

          3:25 PM – Waikoloa Beach Marriott

          3:30 PM – Hilton Waikoloa Village

  • 4:05 PM S. Kohala Resort to Hilo – CANCELLED
  • 4:20 PM S. Kohala Resorts to Hilo A – will have 1 bus with pick ups at: 

            4:20 PM  – Hilton Waikoloa Village

            4:25 PM  – Waikoloa Beach Marriott

  • 4:20 PM S. Kohala Resort to Hilo B- will have 1 bus with pick ups at: 

            4:20 PM  – Fairmont Orchid

            4:25 PM  – Shops at Mauna Lani

            4:35 PM  – Hapuna Prince Hotel

            4:40 PM  – Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

  • 11:05 PM S. Kohala Resort to Hilo – will use SPED Van

All Extension routes have been cancelled:

  •          Kona to Waimea Extension                   – CANCELLED               
  •          Waikoloa  Village to Waimea Extension  – CANCELLED                 
  •          Waimea to Waikoloa Village Extension   – CANCELLED                   
  •          Waikoloa Village to Kona Extension       – CANCELLED               

KONA ROUTES (will run on Saturday schedule):   

  •  INTRA KONA 3  – CANCELLED

PAHOA ROUTES:

  • 9:10 PM Hilo to Nanawale – CANCELLED

Hele-On Working With Robert’s

According to the Hele-On website, effective Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Hele-On drivers will be contracted through Robert’s Hawaii on at least some routes.  

The following transit routes will be conducted with Robert’s Hawaii vehicles:  

  • Intra Kona 1, 2, 3
  • N. Kohala to S. Kohala Resorts
  • N. Kohala to Waimea to Kona 
  • Kau to Hilo
  • 03:30 Pahala to S. Kohala Resorts
  • 05:40 Pahala to Kona
  • 08:00 Pahala to S. Kohala Resorts
  • 05:45 Kona to Hilo
  • Kau to Oceanview Extension
  • 04:15, 11:15 & 7:15 pm Hilo to S. Kohala Resorts

 For more information, contact the transit office at (808) 961-8744

Big Island Man Stabbed on Bus – Police Investigating

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a stabbing Saturday morning (April 25) on a Hele-On bus in Honokaʻa.

HPP Bus Picture

At 9:34 a.m. Saturday, Hāmākua Patrol officers and Hawaiʻi Fire Department medics responded to a report of a stabbing victim at the Hele-On bus stop on Lehua Street in Honokaʻa. The victim, a 40-year-old Hilo man, sustained a laceration to his forehead and was taken in serious condition to North Hawaiʻi Community Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries .

Police learned that the victim and the suspect had been arguing in the bus when the suspect cut the victim’s forehead with an unknown instrument. The suspect then exited the bus and ran away on foot.

A suspect has been identified but no arrests have been made and the case is still under investigation. It has been classified as a first-degree assault.

Police ask that anyone who may have witnessed the incident call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Officer Paul Isotani at 775-7533.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

New Stop Added to UH Hilo Bus Service

UH Hilo Moniker

The County Mass Transit Administration has revised its bus service for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College to include an additional stop at the new UH Hilo Bookstore by the University’s main Kawili Street entrance, effective Monday, April 14, 2014.

The Hele-On Bus timetable runs Monday through Saturday and offers services to and from the University and HawCC within Hilo. Visit www.heleonbus.org for schedules, including transportation to Kona, Pahoa, Volcano, Pahoa, Keaukaha and other areas.

Improvements Slated for Hilo’s Mo‘oheau Park

Public access to the bandstand and bus terminal at Mo‘oheau Park in downtown Hilo will be improved following completion of a construction project that will start Monday, Aug. 13.

General contractor Site Engineering Inc. will modify parking, concrete walkways, ramps, restrooms and other building elements to satisfy federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Additional work specified under the $660,300 contract will include re-roofing, painting, installing new windows, doors and cabinets, reconditioning the restrooms, and performing miscellaneous repairs to the bus terminal.

Construction will occur in two phases to accommodate continued use of the facility. Expected to be completed Sept. 21, the first phase will require cordoning off much of the park and restricting pedestrian access to designated routes. The bus terminal will remain open, however.

Work on the second phase, which will start when the County accepts the initial construction, will focus on the bus terminal and is projected to be finished Dec. 21. Inclement weather and unforeseen conditions could delay the expected completion date.

To accommodate Hele-On bus passengers, temporary canopy shelters with seating accommodations will be erected adjacent to the terminal building, while portable bathrooms and wash basins will be provided for the public’s benefit.

The Hilo Downtown Improvement Association, which sells Hele-On bus tickets and taxi coupons, and provides visitor information services from the terminal, will move to a mobile office trailer to be located near the construction area.

Every effort will be made to reduce construction impacts. This approach will allow special events such as the KWXX Downtown Ho‘olaule‘a, the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk and the Salvation Army Christmas Festival to be held as planned.

The public is advised that vehicular access to the bus terminal will be restricted to Hele-On buses until the construction project is finished. Drivers of private buses, taxicabs and other vehicles are asked to use an alternate entrance to access the parking lot adjacent to the terminal.

The Department of Parks and Recreation wishes to thank park users, Hele-On bus customers and the general public for their patience and understanding while improvements are being made to this important downtown Hilo facility.

Hawaii County Furlough Fridays – What’s Open… What’s Closed

Media Release:

Most County of Hawai`i offices that serve the public will be closed on Friday, July 29, which will be the first county employee furlough day of the new fiscal year. Starting in August, the county furlough days will be scheduled on the first Friday of each month.

In an effort to minimize any inconvenience to the public, county officials are asking residents to include the furlough schedule in their planning to ensure the county agencies they need will be open when they arrive.

In particular, motorists who need to register their vehicles or renew their drivers licenses near the end of July are urged to plan ahead. County vehicle registration offices will be closed on Friday, July 29, which would normally be the last business day of the month.

Hele-On bus service will operate as regularly scheduled, but administrative offices for the bus system will be closed on furlough days.

The Department of Parks & Recreation will not close any pools in July because of the furlough, but pools will be closed for two furlough days in August. Pool users are asked to check with the individual pools to determine the furlough schedule for each facility.

The Department of Public Works’ Aupuni Center and West Hawai’i Civic Center offices will be closed to the public on furlough days, and contractors are asked to schedule critical work and administrative requirements around the furlough days.

The county is implementing one furlough day per month as a cost-saving measure under a new two-year agreement between the County and the Hawai`i Government Employees Association. The furloughs will save the county an estimated $2.1 million per year.

For more information about county news and events, please visit hawaiicountymayor.com