October 17, 2010 – Hilo, Hawaii
Video by David Corrigan
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye took a moment off from a whirlwind campaign tour around the island to present a $7.2 million check to officials for the Hawaii County bus system.
In a brief ceremony fronting the county building in Hilo, Sentor Inouye was thanked by Mayor Billy Kenoi, Mass Transit Agency Director Tom Brown, and three county councilmembers – Ka’u councilmember Guy Enriques, Puna councilwoman Emily Naeole-Beason, and Hilo councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi. The three councilmembers have been supportive of the Kenoi administration’s free bus system expansion, and two of the three (Enriques and Naeole) also happen to be facing stiff challenges for their council seats in November’s run-off election.
The county provided the following information about the grant, said to be the largest single grant to any county in the state of Hawaii:
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye presented a check for $7.2 million to the County of Hawaii for seven new 45-passenger buses and major improvements to the countys Mass Transit Agency facilities on Saturday, October 16, 2010.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grants represent the largest amount ever provided to a Neighbor Island for public transportation improvement projects.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi and Mass Transit Agency Director Tom Brown accepted the check from Senator Inouye in a brief ceremony outside the County building at 25 Aupuni Street , Hilo .
Also attending were Hawaii Island Council members Guy Enriques (6th District), Emily Naeole -Beason (5th District) and Dennis Fresh Onishi (4th District).
Council members Enriques and Naeole-Beason praised Senator Inouye for his efforts to improve transportation for the residents of their rural districts.
” In Kau we come the longest way to drive to Kona and Hilo . We are going to need these buses desperately. I thank-you, this is a dream come true for Kau.” said Councilman Enriques. This shows that our Countys efforts to work in partnership and collaboration with our Congressional delegation and federal agencies provide invaluable services and benefits to our community.
Senator Inouye said the safe and timely transportation of our residents and visitors is critical to maintaining a healthy economy. These funds will help people on the Big Island get to and from work while reducing traffic congestion and limiting the impact fossil fuels have on the environment.
A $5 million State of Good Repair Grant from FTA, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, includes $4 million for new administration offices and base yard for the Countys Mass Transit Agency in Hilo .
The new County mass transit offices will provide easy access to a central location where the public can visit or call to obtain transit services and information. The base yard will enable the county to better house and maintain the transit agencys growing fleet of buses.
The State of Good Repair Grant also includes $1 million for the purchase of three new 45-passenger buses with wheelchair access, bicycle racks and passenger security features that will continue to improve the Countys free, island-wide bus services for island residents.
An additional $2.2 million federal earmark from the FTAs transit capital investment program will be used to purchase four additional new 45-passenger buses for the Countys transportation fleet. The grant will also used to purchase bus stop and bus shelter materials.
This $7.2 million grant is a huge appropriation for our County and recognizes our efforts at building and enhancing the largest transportation system in the State of Hawaii , said Mayor Kenoi. We are very grateful for the help provided by our senior Senator Inouye and his staff in obtaining this valuable assistance for our residents.
The countys free, island-wide bus system is rapidly growing. In Fiscal Year 2009-2010, 1.1 million passengers boarded Hawaii Islands Hele-On buses, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.
The new buses and the administrative and base yard improvements will have a tremendous positive impact on our mass transit system, allowing more people to use the system and to help us address increasing demand for our services, said Tom Brown, Mass Transit Agency director.
The growing demands of our residents traveling between East and West Hawaii, connecting the Ka`u and Ocean View districts with Hilo and Kona, North Kohala and Kona, and between upper and lower Puna to Hilo, will be addressed with the new buses, Brown said.
With the generous support from Senator Inouye, said Mayor Kenoi, we are continuing to follow through on our commitment to expand our transit system.
|RAW VIDEO: $7.2 million check presented
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U.S. Senator Dan Inouye, taking a quick stop off the Big Island campiagn trail, presents the largest transportation grant in Hawaii to Big Island officials for the continued expansion of the free Hele On bus sytem. Accepting the check: Mayor Billy Kenoi, Mass Tranist director Tom Brown, and councilmembers Guy Enriques, Emily Naeole, and Dennis Onishi.
(October 16, 2010 – Hilo, Hawaii)