Mayor names new Mass Transit chief

  • NANCY COOK LAUER/West Hawaii Today file photo The county Mass Transit baseyard as seen in disarray.

KAILUA-KONA — Brenda Carreira is set to become the latest in a line of administrators to try and repair Hawaii County’s beleaguered Mass Transit Agency.

Mayor Harry Kim announced in a press release Tuesday that Carreira will replace Maria “Sole” Aranguiz, who earlier this month announced plans to resign after only eight months on the job.

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Carreira, who will officially step into the position Nov. 1, listed getting departmental vehicles back on the road or purchasing new ones to meet islandwide demand as among her top priorities — all under the umbrella of one encompassing goal.

“Restoring the community’s trust in us,” she said about her early aspiration as administrator. “I’m looking forward to talking with them.”

Carreira spoke extensively about improved communication with not only passengers but also the staff she’s inheriting.

Doing so, she said, will allow her to get a handle on the strengths, shortcomings and needs of a transit system plagued by a lack of functional inventory, trouble keeping up with scheduled bus routes and cash-handling practices so poorly managed that a legislative auditor was unable to say definitively whether the books were correct.

Beyond that, an earlier media report noted strained relationships between Aranguiz and several disgruntled employees, which might have played a role in the agency’s continued lack of effectiveness and Aranguiz’s ultimate departure.

“I want that open communication and to be able to talk,” said Carreira about her soon-to-be staff. “So we can all work together for the (people of Hawaii County).”

She added she’s already got one foot in the door when it comes to relationship building throughout the agency, as her former positions allowed her to work with and come to know private vendors and drivers with whom she’ll interact regularly in her new capacity.

Carreira has worked as operations manager for Roberts Hawaii Tours since 2012, and served as Kona operations manager for Polynesian Adventures before that, beginning in 2005.

She graduated in 1984 from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii and is an alum of St. Joseph’s School in Hilo. She also has served as the county’s deputy prosecuting attorney.

“Ms. Carreira has a solid grounding in mass transit in the private sector, and has also worked closely with our current Mass Transit staff,” Kim said in his press release.

Carreira was a finalist for the administrator position before Kim ultimately appointed her predecessor, Aranguiz. This time, the county reached out to Carreira.

Carreira said the mission of turning the transit system around is somewhat daunting, but she isn’t intimidated by a task.

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“This is a challenging position,” Kim said, “and I believe that Ms. Carreira will be up to it.”

Email Max Dible at mdible@westhawaiitoday.com.