The Federal Transit Administration announced Friday a grant award that will help purchase more buses for the Big Island.
The $6.5 million will be used to purchase 10 40-foot buses for Hawaii County, as well as six shorter buses for Kauai County.
“Investing in new buses for 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,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in a statement.
“This is wonderful news,” said Brenda Carreira, director of the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency.
Carreira said she applied for a $10 million grant that would allow the county to purchase up to 16 40-foot buses. However, she said the $6.5 million grant is still excellent news for the island.
The new buses will be used on routes from Hilo to South Kohala, the Pahoa commuter route, various intra-city Hilo routes and a commuter route over the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
“Some of these would be new routes we haven’t tried before,” Carreira said, adding that Kona employers complained that there are few transit solutions allowing Hilo employees to get to jobs in Kona.
Other routes, such as the Hilo-South Kohala routes, are frequently filled to near-capacity, Carreira said.
While the grant was announced Friday, it is unclear when the buses will be ready for use.
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