With a possible transit strike looming in a few days,
Honolulu officials and employers plan to adopt new
ridesharing ideas, including "slug lines,"
organizing the pick-up of passengers by motorists who give
free rides to qualify for carpool lanes.
"We're calling it 'Ride Aloha,'" said Cheryl
Soon, director of transportation services for the City and
County of Honolulu. "Motorists will carry placards that
show they participate in the program, and we'll set up
places where they can pick up riders."
The practice has been commonplace for years in
Washington, D.C., where motorists line up in the shadow of
the Washington Monument to pick up passengers to qualify
them for the car pool lanes of the main superhighway into
the Virginia suburbs.
In the nation's capital, they call these "slug
"It started as a pejorative term for the
passengers," said Steve Eldridge, who covers
transportation issues for WTOP Newsradio in Washington, D.C.
"There used to be a practice by some people of using
slugs as bus tokens, and the local bus drivers called these
passengers slugs, implying that they were cheating Metrobus
of business by bumming rides off these drivers."
Eldridge said most Washingtonians don't know the origin
of the term and use it without prejudice. The term is
routinely used on radio traffic reports in the confident
expectation that listeners will understand it.
He said slug lines were also used in the New York City
area after the collapse of the World Trade Center.
"Slug lines, huh?" Cheryl Soon said.
"Maybe we should localize it and call them gecko
While officials and employers see long-term benefits in
adopting fresh ideas to reduce traffic congestion, the rest
of the process of planning for a possible bus strike is less
uplifting and more stressful.
The next general meeting of local employers and city
officials to plan for this is still scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
Friday at Blaisdell Center, but has been moved from the Oahu
Room, which was packed at a similar meeting last week, to
the larger Pikake Room, also on the second floor of the
Thursday morning, Soon met with human resources
representatives from Sheraton, Hilton, Outrigger, Marriott,
Hyatt, Hale Koa, Halekulani and other Waikiki hotels. The
meeting was held at Outrigger East. While declining to
discuss plans in details, representatives of two hotels said
they thought the city was doing a good job of preparing for
heightened traffic if there is a strike.
TheBus, operated for the city by Oahu Transit Services,
is in negotiations with the Teamsters, whose leaders have
said they simply don't believe there is no money for raises.
Fares have already been raised once this year, and service
cuts are planned. Mayor Harris announced Wednesday evening
that he would delay service cuts that were scheduled to
start soon because it appeared the city council would find
funds to restore service, but warned that if this did not
happen, the delay of service cuts now would mean that cuts
later would have to be deeper.
At a meeting between city officials and employers last
week, Teamsters officials distributed fliers urging citizens
to ask the Ethics Commission to investigate statements about
the city finances with respect to transit service and pay.