HILO — The state of Hawaii received a $6.5 million grant from a federal transportation agency to purchase new buses for Kauai and Hawaii Island, agency officials said.
The Federal Transit Administration announced the grant Friday, but it is unclear when the buses would be fully operational, Kauai and Hawaii County officials said.
“Investing in new buses for Kauai and Hawaii Island means that the residents who depend on them to get to school or work every day will continue to have an affordable way to get around,” U.S. Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz said in a news release.
The money would be used to purchase 10 40-foot (12-meter) buses on the Big Island, Hawaii County officials said.
The buses would be used on routes including from Hilo to South Kohala, various intra-city Hilo routes and a commuter route over the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, officials said.
“Some of these would be new routes we haven’t tried before,” Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency director Brenda Carreira told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
Kona employers complained that there are few transit solutions allowing Hilo employees to get to jobs in Kona, Carreira said.
Other routes, like the Hilo-South Kohala routes, are frequently filled to near-capacity, she said.
Carreira applied for a $10 million grant that would allow the county to purchase up to 16 buses, but 10 buses “is wonderful news,” she said.
An additional three 30-foot (9-meter) buses and three smaller buses in Kauai would be purchased, Kauai County officials said.