mauibus2Maui is a small island and it’s bus system is likewise small. A service of County of Maui, it is operated by Roberts Hawaii.  There are basically two separate networks, a peak only commuter network and an all day network.

Of the thirteen all day routes, ten are hourly, two are every ninety minutes, and one is hourly in the morning and half hourly from 2:30 to 6:30pm.  The buses are new, clean, and have bike racks.  Fares are $2, cash only.  However since you only drop the bills into a clear plastic box and there are no transfers or change, boarding is quick.  All day passes are $4, monthly passes  are $45 and both are purchased from the driver.

You can’t really use the all-day to get around entire island as each route is only a few miles long and transfers are not timed.  For example one trip that ended up being less than thirty minutes by car would have taken three and half hours by bus and would have required one forty minute transfer wait and a one hour transfer wait.  Both the origin and destination were on the same road and less than twenty miles apart.

The commuter system covers almost the same area but combines all the short routes into four longer distance routes, radiating out from from the North/Central part of the island, mostly through the Wailuku/Kahului area.  Stops are reduced by about half.  Three routes have only one run each peak period, with one having four round trips.

As I only rode two all-day routes and none of the commuter routes I have to give Maui an Incomplete.  We were able to get by just fine without a car, but it required picking a hotel near our friends and close to services, walking most places, and relying on friends for the trip where we needed to go further than a few miles from our place.

39 Replies to “Maui Transit Report Card”

  1. Clicking the all day network link reveals their rules for riding the bus. A couple of interesting rules that differ from ours.

    First, they require passengers remain seated while the bus is in motion. Second, they don’t allow food or beverages on the bus, even if you aren’t eating or drinking it! Bizarre. Third, no luggage. So I guess they want to discourage tourists from using their buses as a way of getting to and from the airport.

    A couple of questions. Are all the buses assessable? And since this is a report card, what grade do you give them?

    1. from the all day service brochure …

      • When standing, please move to the rear of the bus and always hold on to standee handbars or seatbars.
      • Please do not change seats after the bus starts moving and fasten your seatbelts.

      1. Conflicting rules?

        My fault. I initially had the wrong link to the All Day Network. Each system has different rules.

      2. Seatbelts?!?!

        A thought: in personal cars, the law requires seatbeat use (and for good reason – I was raised outside NYC, where the general rule is ‘if you don’t wear a seatbelt, you die’.). The school buses I used as a kid had seatbelts, though no one used them. (Kids!) Taxis have them, and I usually buckle up when riding a cab. Our buses don’t have them, though: for city routes, I suppose its understandable, but I would feel more comfortable with even a basic lap belt when on a big ST bendy-bus trundling along at freeway speeds.

    2. And since this is a report card, what grade do you give them?


      As I only rode two all-day routes and none of the commuter routes I have to give Maui an Incomplete.

  2. Maui Transit Report Card….tough gig, but I guess somebody’s gotta do it.

    The morning commuter routes are all timed to leave from the Wailuku/Kahului area in the morning and arrive at the outlying tourist hotels in time for the start of work. The afternoon commute reverses direction.

  3. The Maui Bus is designed for locals ONLY. Routes, rules, schedules, etc are specifically designed to discourage any tourists from using the system which as Matthew noted, is run by Roberts one of Maui’s biggest providers of direct services between the airport at Kahului in Central Maui and the two resort areas of Kihei and West Maui. Were there an overlay of “express”/airport service and timed transfers, the system’s ridership would probably triple at Roberts own expense.

      1. Well, yes, based on population. But Maui Airport sees 5-6 million people a year compared to Pasco’s 500,000. Tourism trumps everything in Hawai’i.

  4. For all its deficiencies, the Maui Bus does run 7 days a week, unlike some much larger systems around here (e.g. Community Transit).

    1. To be honest, the level of transit service on Maui is a lot better than those for comparable rural areas around here such as the Olympic Peninsula:
      -Each line actually runs 365 days per year, unlike most rural transit lines here
      -They actually offer clockface hourly routes across almost all of the system–much better than most rural transit in Washington which have even worse frequencies and non-clockface headways
      -Span of service is at least 06:00-20:00 which beats most rural transit in Washington
      -There seems to be a good effort to time transfers for almost every possible connection (now whether these connections are possible in practice is another story…)

    1. Is the private company contracted by the local government, or is it completely a private service?

  5. Do the ultra-short routes really match a lot of people’s trips? Or is there any logic to not combining them into longer routes?

    1. Again, this is what is known as “sectioned” routes. You have a corridor which mostly operates with a single bus, that changes route numbers as it travels. This, believe it or not, makes it easier to understand for many, and makes it much easier to provide variable levels of service along the corridor.


    Why are the 30, 25, 20, and the 15 all separate routes? They should be one continuous route. And the transfer window is so small, unless the departures are timed (which someone said that they are not), ANY delay will cause you to miss your transfer.

    I’m glad I don’t live there.

    1. Just looking at the schedule, it seems like they are making an attempt to time transfers (I checked a lot of different connections and the arrival/departure times are the same), but since the arrival/departure times are the same it’s difficult to tell whether you can actually make the transfer on a regular basis. In this case, it would be best for the transit agency to explicitly note which of the transfers are timed (i.e. the next bus will wait) and which ones are not.

      My guess for why those routes aren’t connected is because of reliability reasons (if the route is too long then reliability will be very poor), but I personally don’t think that this is a good reason since it would be quite easy to miss your connection, and if they make buses wait for connections, then that removes the reliability benefit.

      1. I’d like to know how you would propose that. Their schedule seems to be on a multi-fold single sheet of paper. So there isn’t a lot of space available for explaining interlines, which would actually confuse more people.

      2. If there is interlining, it is not put into their literature, nor does it show up in google maps or HERE maps for transit directions. For someone not from the area there is no way to know.

        Where are you getting that they are interlined from?

      3. Also, the arrangement of schedules on their PDF seems to suggest possible interlining. They could line up the rows that actually have interlining and simly indicate it with an arrow or dash, with a column labeled “Continues as”.

      4. Metro just has a “to route” column on the right with the number of the following route.

    2. They can’t make the system too good or people might use it over shuttle/taxi services which charge a lot more money.

  7. Why are they so bent on making the system less usable for everyone? The routes are not planned well. And the rules are bizarre! You must be seated all the time, so you cannot stand, so that artificially limits the capacity. You cannot have food, even if you aren’t eating it, so that artificially stops you from using the system for grocery shopping. They are going out of their way to make sure that this system is as useless as possible. How screwy is that? Who plans the bus service there? Tim Eyman?

    1. Some people think having sectioned routes allow for finer adjustments to headways. If you look at their schedules, you will see that some portions of a given corridor have more service than others.

    2. According to their rules, you can have grocery bags if they fit on your lap. But you apparently can’t have food or beverages in the bags. You could have smokes as long as you don’t smoke them.

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