Travellers and residents of Kaua‘i’s North Shore are getting a new way to get around this summer. The island received a $160,000 funding package from the Hawaii Tourism Authority earmarked to bring a shuttle service back to the North Shore.
The North Shore Shuttle, which began in November 2014, will be funded by the HTA for three months during Kaua‘i’s busiest season.
According to Daniel Nahoopii, director of tourism research for HTA, concerns about parking and traffic congestion prompted the HTA to restart the shuttle.
In the past four years, visitor arrivals to Kaua‘i have increased by 15%, prompting concerns about its struggling infrastructure. At popular shopping centres, beaches and trailheads along the North Shore, parking lots are often full.
A one-way trip for visitors will cost $4, while residents will pay $2.
The fee structure mirrors the earlier shuttle programme, which ran for six months between 2014 and 2015. In May 2015 the programme was cancelled after a 4-2 vote from the Kauai County Council. Critics of the shuttle service said it was a for-profit enterprise getting benefits from taxpayer money and providing services that other businesses, such as taxis, could administer. Proponents of the service said the shuttles were more affordable than taxi fares.
The Office of Economic Development, who supports the shuttle plan, said they gathered input from a variety of island bureaus, including the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state legislature.
Many North Shore shops support the shuttle. Linda Almond, salesperson at a clothing store in the area, told The Garden Island, “I’ve had so many tourists come in and say, ‘there’s no bus here…’”
“[The shuttle] would bring a lot of people to the North Shore who don’t rent cars,” she said.