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Questions/changes regarding Hele On operations

Hi everyone,

We hope that you are all safe and healthy.

As stated previously, Roberts Tours and Transportation became the new Hele On Contractor on April 1, 2020.  Since they took over we have received emails and calls re different issues.  We'd like to answer them now.


Q - Is Hele On still running?

A - Yes.  We added some buses on April 1st then we made changes on April 9.  On that date we cancelled routes with zero ridership, combined routes, and sent extra buses to an afternoon run from the South Kohala Resorts to Hilo because of the large number of riders and we needed to ensure that we were practicing social distancing to the fullest extent possible.  Roberts is operating many routes right now because of the shortage of county buses.  We will place our buses in service once they are operable.

Q - Why are we being asked to call Roberts?

A - In the new contract, Roberts has special personnel assigned to Hele On.  Their dispatchers are available 0700 to 530 pm. Monday through Saturday. Roberts employs all drivers not the County.  Also, Roberts has a special program that can track where their buses are and they will have firsthand knowledge.  The County will have a new program for all new buses but we only have four new ones (the fourth should be on base today) and we will be installing that program.  It may take time because of the pandemic and the company is on the mainland but we will let you know when it is fully operational.  However the buses can be put in to service without that technology.  We hope to put at least two buses in service either the end of April or May 1st.


Q - Can we still call Mass Transit?

A - Of course.  Mass Transit still oversees the Hele On bus system.  Most of our staff is very knowledgeable about Hele On however there is one person who is a volunteer who hasn't been trained in the Hele On routes.  She will either transfer the call to one of our other staff or to Roberts as they can also answer questions.


Q - Why are Roberts buses at the Hawaii Volcano National Park.  Are they doing tours there?

A - Roberts are using their own buses for several routes if our county buses are not available.  The Park is one of our stops.  Even though the Park is closed riders will still wait there.  The buses cannot go in to the Park itself but it will turn in to pick up and drop off riders.  NO TOURS are being conducted as the Park is closed.


Q - Why are we still going to the South Kohala Resorts area, including the Four Seasons if they are closed?

A - Not all staff has been laid off.  Some housekeeping and landscaping staff are still working.  We will continue to assist these riders to and from work to the fullest extent possible.


Q  - How are we practicing social distancing?

A - We are limiting the amount of riders that can be in the office at one time, depending on the bus size.  Also, for the safety of the driver, nobody can sit within 2 rows behind the driver.


Q - What about sanitizing the buses?

A - Each county bus is equipped with a hand sanitizer and wipes.  Gloves are available for the drivers.  Disinfectants are also available between routes.  The buses that return to the county baseyard are cleaned and sanitized.  Roberts has their own sanitization procedures.  The county supplied them with gloves and other supplies as available.


We hope this answers some of your questions.

Again, please be safe and healthy.  We're all in this together.


Brenda Carreira

Mass Transit Administrator