Honolulu, HI: City and County of Honolulu Department of Transportation Services

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Project Description

The City and County of Honolulu has three routes in place in its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program. This started with the introduction of its first limited-stop fixed route service in March 1999, when CityExpress! (Route A) began operating along the 6.6 mile primary urban corridor between the Kalihi Transit Center and the University of Hawaii. The CityExpress! service expanded in August 1999 an additional 6.0 miles to the major retail area of Pearlridge Center.

 Bus route map of Routes A, B and C, the City's limited-stop routes.  The map shows Route A in red, Route B in green and Route C in blue.  Route a runs from Waipahu to the University of Hawaii in Mahoa.  Route B runs from Kalihi to Waikiki and Route C runs from Makaha to Ala Moana Center.

This expansion provided limited-stop service along the primary urban corridor, where slightly more than forty percent of the population of Honolulu reside. In June 2000, service was extended to Waipahu with a terminus at the future site of the Waipahu Transit Center on Hikimoe Street.

On May 7, 2000, the City introduced CountryExpress! (Route C) to provide limited-stop service between the Waianae Coast to downtown Honolulu. CountryExpress! provides travel options for residents of the Waianae Coast through linkages to express, local, and circulator services from strategically located transit centers. In conjunction with the introduction of CountryExpress!, the City converted Leeward Oahu to a hub-and-spoke bus operation that significantly improved the efficiency of the service.

In August 2000, CityExpress! (Route B) began limited-stop service between Kalihi and Waikiki. This service was an overlay service along one of the busiest transit routes on Oahu.

CityExpress! (Route A) Overview

CityExpress! is a limited-stop bus service that links major destinations along the primary urban corridor between the community of Waipahu and the University of Hawaii. This 18.6 mile corridor links major residential areas, major shopping centers, government centers, the central business district, the convention center and the university.

This is a photo of a bus rider looking at a new spinner - a cylindrical sign that displays bus information.  The picture shows the spinner and the bus rider opposite the door of a waiting bus.  The spinner is bight yellow on the top and bottom with a clear portion in the center, under which is a bus route map.  The center section turns, allowing the bus rider to view the entire map.

Phase I of CityExpress! began on March 8, 1999 with a 6.6 mile service between the Kalihi Transit Center and the University of Hawaii in Manoa. The travel time was reduced from sixty-eight minutes on the local bus service to thirty-five minutes. The service operated from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week. Headways during the week were fifteen minutes and thirty minutes on Sundays and holidays. Nine standard forty-foot buses were used in the service. The buses were all wheelchair accessible and equipped with bike racks capable of carrying two bicycles. All CityExpress! bus stops were clearly identified with special CityExpress! placards matching the CityExpress! "colors" displayed on the buses. Additionally, each CityExpress! bus stop was equipped with a "spinner" containing the route map and additional information on the CityExpress! system. Average weekday ridership in Phase I grew from an initial 2,200 to over 3,500.

Phase II of CityExpress! started on August 23, 1999, with an extension from the Kalihi Transit Center to the Pearlridge Shopping Center. This six-mile extension operated on fifteen to twenty minute headways on weekdays and thirty minute headways on Saturdays. The original 6.6 mile portion of the route was improved to 7.5 minutes in peak and 10 minutes base headways on weekdays. An additional six transit buses were added to the CityExpress! service for Phase II. The average daily ridership in Phase II increased significantly from around 3,500 in Phase I to over 6,000 in Phase II.

The expansion of CityExpress! continued in June 2000, with the seven mile extension from Pearlridge to the community of Waipahu. This extension operated along Kamehameha Highway and Farrington Highway before traveling on the H-1 Freeway to the Kalihi Transit Center and continuing to the University of Hawaii. The service operated on fifteen to twenty minute headways and provided the first direct link between Waipahu and the University of Hawaii. Sunday service was added at this time.

 CountryExpress! 60-foot articulated bus waiting at bus stop in Kapolei, Hawaii.  Picture shows a tree-lined street and the bus adjacent to a Kapolei-unique bus shelter with two stanchions and a green tile roof.

A new limited-stop service, CountryExpress! Route C, started on Sunday, May 7, 2000. The service operates from the Waianae Coast to the second city of Kapolei and to downtown Honolulu. CountryExpress! is a seven-day a week operation with thirty minute headways. The service runs from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. CountryExpress! saw the introduction of the City's new sixty-foot articulated buses. Ten articulated buses are used in the service.

The introduction of CountryExpress! Route C was part of the City's conversion of Leeward Oahu to a hub-and-spoke bus operation. The conversion resulted in establishing ten community circulators, with unique three digit numbers, four new transit centers and modifications to all existing service. CountryExpress! is the focal point of the service providing linkage between the transit centers before transiting to Ala Moana Center.

The success of CityExpress! Route A resulted in establishing CityExpress! Route B in August 2000. This service operates along and is additive to the Route 2 corridor that experiences over 50,000 boardings daily. The seven mile corridor is between the Kalihi Transit Center and Waikiki along School Street, King Street, Beretania Street and Kuhio Avenue. Route B operates on fifteen minute headways using forty-foot buses.

Express! Ridership

 Four graphs showing the monthly ridership during 2001-2002 on the Express! routes.  Route A ridership shows a slight downward trend from 300,000 monthly riders in March 2001 to around 290,000 in 2002.  Route B shows a slight upward trend from 200,000 monthly riders in March 2001 to around 210,000 in 2002.  Route C shows a flat ridership of around 100,000 monthly riders.  The ridership trend was influenced by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the resulting downward employment trend in Hawaii.

The ridership on all the Express! routes remains strong. Ridership was influenced by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the resulting downward trend in the local economy. As the economy improves, ridership on the Express! routes will continue to increase.

Hub-and-Spoke Conversion

The City is continuing its efforts to convert from a radial bus route system to a hub-and-spoke system to improve operating efficiency.

 Map showing the new hub-and-spoke bus routes serving Leeward Oahu.  The map illustrates the limited-stop CountryExpress!, along with the two trunk routes (Routes 40 and 42) and the nine community circulator routes.  The map illustrates the routes between Waianae and the University of Hawaii, showing the linkage between the transit centers in Kapolei, Ewa Beach, Waipahu, Kalihi, and Alapai.

The initial conversion of Leeward Oahu was completed and activated in August 2000. The Leeward conversion added ten community circulator routes designed to provide intra-community movement and a direct link to the transit centers in Waianae, Kapolei, Ewa Beach and Waipahu. At these transit centers, the community circulators are pulsed to arrive within minutes of the Route A and Route C, and the local routes to allow for direct transfers. The first "owl" service was implemented as part of the Leeward Conversion, with Route 40 running 24/7 between Waikiki and Ewa Beach.

Photo of the new Opus bus featuring a rainbow design. The City introduced its new 30-foot Opus Buses, with a new color scheme, for the Community Circulator Routes.

 Photo of meeting participants gathered around a discussion table.

Phase II, the conversion of Central Oahu, started in March 2001. The conversion planning focused heavily on community input. Multiple community meetings were held to obtain the views of the residents regarding the type of transit service they desire. Focus group meetings were held with bus operators to receive their recommendations and observations. Ridership surveys were also conducted and help determine existing ridership patterns within the area. The Central Oahu planning is complete and will be phased into service after the construction of the transit centers in Mililani and Wahiawa.

Transit Centers

Transit Centers for Leeward Oahu are in the final design stages for Waianae, Kapolei and Waipahu, along with a transit hub in Ewa Beach. Construction of the Kapolei Transit Center will start September 2002. The hub-and-spoke project in Central Oahu identified sites for transit centers in Mililani and Wahiawa.

 Rendering of the proposed transit center in Mililani showing four buses stopped adjacent to the five bus shelters that are positioned along the bus only pull-in.  The transit center includes ample vegetation, shade trees, a comfort station and an information station.

The designs for these transit centers are undergoing final design reviews. Funding for construction of these transit centers was approved in the Fiscal Year 2003 budget. The Mililani Transit Center (see rendering) will be constructed adjacent to the Mililani Town Center under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the developer. This transit center will provide excellent transfer opportunities for passengers and an enhancement to the adjacent retail establishments.

Traveler Information Systems

 Photo of a new CityExpress! sign showing the location of the next bus.

The City, in partnership with the University of Hawaii, developed an internet-protocol based traveler information system that was tested on CityExpress! Route B. The information system was accessible on personal computers at cityexpress.Hawaii.edu. Electronic Route B route signs with LED displays that track the next approaching bus to inform waiting riders when the next Route B bus would arrive. This demonstration project showed that the community desired real-time information. As a result of the demonstration project, the City procured an electronic traveler information system that will be deployed after the installation of the new bus radio system in late 2002.

Signal Prioritization

The signal prioritization program will result in all limited-stop buses having the capability to extend the "green" time at major intersections along the routes. The system will not allow the operators to change the signal from red to green but will allow the operators to extend the green time if the signal is green as they approach the intersection. The City is exploring a "corridor signal prioritization system" that will enable longer green lights at all intersection along the Express" corridors, except at major intersections. Installing signal prioritization at major intersections does not appear needed as the Express! buses stop before the intersection, limiting the need for increased green time.

All Door Boarding and Advance Fare Payment

Reducing dwell time through all door boardings is part of the City's plans. The initial step in achieving all door boarding, however, is to implement fare payment via smart card technology. The City recently awarded a contract to Booz Allen Hamilton to develop the specifications for a smart card system for the transit system. The consultant will also write the request for proposals for the system and assist the City in evaluating the proposals. Funding is provided in the Fiscal Year 2003 Capital Improvement Budget (CIP) for purchasing the system.

Regional BRT System

The City released its Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on March 13, 2002. This is an important step in the planning process for the Regional and In-Town BRT system for Honolulu. The Regional BRT will operate from Kapolei to the Middle Street Transit Center where it connects with the In-town BRT with branches to the University of Hawaii-Manoa, Kakaako and Waikiki.

 This is a map of the Regional Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will operate between Kapolei and Ala Moana.  The map shows the locations of the Regional Transit Centers located at Kapolei, North-South Road, Aloha Stadium, Middle Street, Iwilei, Alapai and Ala Moana.  Shown also, is the existing AM Zipper lane and the proposed new PM Zipper lane.  As shown on the map, park-and-ride facilities will be located in Kapolei, North-South Road, Aloha Stadium, and Middle Street.

In-town BRT System

The In-town BRT will operate along a 12.8 mile corridor between the Middle Street Transit Center and the University of Hawaii-Manoa, with segments serving Kakaako and Waikiki. BRT service will provide fast and frequent service through the downtown area with major stops at the future Iwilei Transit Center, the Alapai Express Bus Terminal and Civic Center Complex, the Ala Moana Shopping Center and Waikiki. The peak hour frequency will be 2-4 minutes.

 Map showing the alignment of the In-town Bus Rapid Transit system.  The map shows the in-town BRT route from Middle Street through downtown Honolulu, Kakaako to Waikiki and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  The map also lists the transit centers at Middle Street, Iwilei, Alapai and Ala Moana.  The map is colored green with the routes shown in yellow.

BRT-Phase I

Phase I of Honolulu's BRT system is becoming a reality. The City Council approved the funding in the Fiscal Year 2003 budget for implementing the Iwilei to Waikiki segment of the BRT system. This phase is planned to be operating within three years. Phase I will operate from the future Iwilei Transit Center to Waikiki, serving stops throughout downtown Honolulu, the Kakaako waterfront area, and Waikiki. Included in the budget is funding to purchase the land adjacent to the existing Middle Street bus facility to establish a paratransit facility and the Middle Street Transit Center. The City is currently considering alternatives for vehicles to operate in the Phase I BRT segment.

 Map of the alignment of the first phase of the Bus Rapid Transit system from Iwilei to Waikiki via Kakaako Makai.  The map illustrates the route the BRT vehicles will take from the transit center in Iwilei to Waikiki via Kakaako Makai.  The seventeen stops are listed on the map.


The City is working hard to make transit fast, reliable, comfortable, and convenient ... so that transit becomes the travel mode of choice for Honolulu's residents and visitors.

Photo of passengers boarding The Bus in downtown Honolulu, with a rainbow overhead.

More Information:

For more current information on Hawaii's Bus Rapid Transit projects, go to: [http://www.oahutrans2k.com/index.htm]

Contact Information:

Mr. Paul Steffens, Chief Public Transit Division
Department of Transportation Services
650 South King Street, 3rd Floor
Honolulu. HI 96813
Phone: 808-523-4138
FAX: 808-596-2380