The Student News Site of Mililani High School

Trojan Times

The Student News Site of Mililani High School

Trojan Times

The Student News Site of Mililani High School

Trojan Times

The Cost of Paradise
Dannika Pila and Arie Yamasaki February 7, 2024
Left to right: Trumpets Rylan Akau-Morgan, Peyton Kahiapo and Skylar Hamasu stand in first position during the City of Lights Parade on Dec. 2.
Great Minds Think Alike: Collaborations Between Mililani Schools
Gianna Brown and Arie Yamasaki February 7, 2024
Senior Marcus Morifuji faces off against senior Ava Mayfield in a game of chess. The Tabletop Gaming Club
hosted its first chess tournament on Nov. 30, any student was welcome to participate.
Checkmate! Tabletop Gaming Club Hosts Chess Tournament
Marcus Morifuji, Sports Editor • February 6, 2024

HOLO All the Way

A+Mililani+High+School+student+makes+use+of+public+transportation+after+school.+The+HOLO+card+is+a+subsidized+free+bus%0Aand+rail+pass+for+students.
A Mililani High School student makes use of public transportation after school. The HOLO card is a subsidized free bus and rail pass for students.

For centuries, public transportation has been an integral cogwheel to our society and daily endeavors. Transportation such as buses, subways and trains are used everyday by people to get to destinations faster and more efficiently. Because private transportations like cars are not easily accessible for many people, more specifically students, public transportation is crucial for them to get around to places, especially in a country that is not so walk-friendly. In Hawai’i, different ideas regarding public transportation have been introduced and implemented to make it more accessible for residents and students alike. The newly built Skyline rail system and the free HOLO bus pass program for students are some examples of how the state is encouraging the use of public transportation as of recently.

“[The HOLO card for high school students] is free. So in that sense it’s a good compromise because if students went out on their own and bought a student pass to access public transportation, it would be a monthly pass that runs somewhere about $40 to $45 per month,” said assistant principal Kevin Matsuba. “So the fact that they’re getting something at no charge for the entire school year, it’s a pretty good compromise.”

Since the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, Hawai’i has been facing a school bus driver shortage, with less than 200 drivers willing to staff school bus routes throughout the state. According to the Hawai’i Department of Education (HIDOE), bus service contractors have offered and expanded hiring bonuses, pay incentives and increased benefits in order to recruit enough school bus drivers for stable operations. However, amidst the scarcity of school bus drivers, the Hawai’i Department of Education (HIDOE) began cutting bus routes, which impacted 14 schools on O’ahu and four schools on Kaua’i. In response to this dilemma, HIDOE launched a program called the Expanding Ridership to Educate Students in Schools, also known as EXPRESS, that allows high school students to apply for a free HOLO card with their student IDs. With the EXPRESS program, school buses are able to be reassigned and prioritized towards impacted routes at elementary and middle schools. The program also encourages high school students to opt for public transit at no cost, though some issues may arise with taking the bus to school.

“[The bus] can get a little crowded and that gets annoying when you have to stand or sit next to someone you don’t know,” said junior Kalaniua Okano. “Definitely since freshman year there’s been more and more people on the bus, especially because of the new HOLO cards.”

Though using public transportation may be necessary for others, it can also be less convenient than utilizing private transportation. With public transits, there are often concerns about the safety of riding with strangers, especially when students are to ride alone without a guardian. For reasons like this, parents may be less inclined to allow students, mainly those in middle and elementary school, to take the public bus to school. Furthermore, since the start of the EXPRESS program, there has been a recent influx of students in public buses as a result of the declining school bus operations. This can be inconvenient for those who take the city bus as there might not be enough space or seats in the bus. The increase of demand in public transportation also causes delays on some routes.

“I think as a whole, in a perfect world, if we could have all the buses we need that would be great. But given the situation, I think everyone’s doing the best to make sure that students are able to access these kinds of rides if they need to,” said Matsuba.

Looking through a different lens, public transit can be beneficial in many ways. By riding the bus or rail, the amount of cars on the road can lessen and contribute to the decrease of traffic on the highway. Simultaneously, the reduced usage of cars can also minimize the amount of carbon emissions produced by transportation. Compared to private vehicles, taking public transit can reduce carbon emissions by 45% and saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, according to the University of California, Los Angeles.

Public transit can help students learn new skill sets that allow them to self-navigate the world around them. Taking the bus on their own can also aid students in building their independence, which can be applied in future endeavors. With how cost-efficient it is compared to driving a car, students can travel to wherever they’d want with just a tap of their HOLO card.

“I think the free HOLO cards are a good idea, especially because it didn’t seem like the school buses were getting much people. I think it’s a good idea that they implemented it and it saves me money,” said Okano.

Public transportation is dynamic in its own way, with various pros and cons to consider. If you are a student and would like to apply for a free HOLO card, please visit this website at iportal.k12.hi.us/express to fill out and submit an online application that will be available through May 31, 2024.

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