COTA taps Hawaii transportation expertise


Leveraging its partnership with the Department of Transportation Services of Honolulu, the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority is adopting the department’s best practices in transit service planning and development.

Alfreda P. Camacho, the special assistant for Public Transportation, said the Honolulu Transit Authority continues to play a guiding role in the development of public transit on the islands.

“Using their model of professional and policy development, we’re able to better plan and address the needs of our community. This partnership has proved advantageous and we’ve taken valuable knowledge from their practices and continue to work to adapt them here,” she said.

She said Jon Y. Nouchi, the deputy director of the Department of Transportation Services, has been a key part of this collaboration.

According to community planner Diego B. Songsong, Hawaii represents the best of public transit in the Pacific region.

“Recalling the sentiments of Mr. Nouchi, recognizing the value of best practices and lessons is a critical first step. We’re managed under the same Federal Transit Administration Region as Hawaii, so we’ve mirrored our planning stages for the much-needed fixed-route transit system. Using the insight from Hawaii’s over 100 years of public transit experience, we’re able to adapt based on our current resources,” Songsong said.

Camacho said the Hawaii partnership will be key to developing the phases of Saipan’s fixed flex system in the coming months, adding that a team from Honolulu will soon travel to Saipan to conduct peer reviews. 

“In the months ahead, we are committed to ensuring the environmental, economic, and social wellbeing of transit. We know that incorporating sustainability practices throughout our planning, design, construction and operations is important which is why we are maintaining this proactive stance to help us reach our goal,” Camacho said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration grant program primarily funds COTA.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who earlier stated the need for public transportation, recognizes that this development will occur in phases.

“We are already aware of the geographic and transportation challenges, in addition to economic challenges of the Commonwealth. I am very pleased that COTA has still taken the steps to leverage the resources of working models in our region. I reiterate that public transportation in the Commonwealth is a long-term development that’ll benefit our community in terms of employment access and community development. …I am committed to this need, and acknowledge COTA’s diligence in seeking the most cost-effective route to make this a reality,” Torres said. (PR)

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