HI: City kicks off first 'Happy HOLO Days' campaign

Dec. 13, 2023
Honolulu has announced its first ever "Happy HOLO Days !" campaign, launched to increase awareness of public transit options this holiday season.

Dec. 12—Honolulu has announced its first ever "Happy HOLO Days !" campaign, launched to increase awareness of public transit options this holiday season.

To that end, the city Department of Transportation Services on Monday unveiled three newly designed, holiday-themed HOLO cards.

The contactless "smart cards " can be used to access TheBus, TheHandi-Van and Skyline, DTS says.

The newly designed HOLO cards are available at participating 7-Eleven and Foodland stores, JCB Plaza Lounge in Waikiki and the Halawa Skyline station.

"Really, what we want people to do is to consider giving these out as office gifts, giving them out as stocking stuffers, " DTS Director Roger Morton said Monday during a news conference inside Honolulu Hale's courtyard. "Put a few bucks on them, let people go try out TheBus or Skyline."

Jon Nouchi, DTS deputy director, said the new HOLO card campaign begins as the city's latest mode of public transit started operations June 30.

"This is the first time that we've had Skyline open during Christmas, " said Nouchi of the nearly $10 billion, nine-station line from East Kapolei to Halawa. "There's a lot of opportunities to use it ; there's a lot of good shopping and dining along the line."

Namely, he said motorists can avoid freeway backups by using rail instead.

"Just park your car out of the traffic, near the mall, and maybe take Skyline to your destination, " he added.

Meanwhile, as far as gaining more Skyline riders through the latter half of 2023, Morton said that "it's been a challenge for us."

"And we're going to be looking closely to see if we're going to be doing between 3, 000 to 3, 500 (riders ) a day, " he said.

Morton added he'd like to see Skyline ridership increase by at least 1, 000 riders during the end-of-year holidays.

According to DTS ridership data for Skyline, during November rail saw a total of 83, 148 riders. Day to day, those numbers fluctuated between a high of 3, 547 riders on Nov. 1 and a low of 1, 185 riders on Nov. 23.

In prior months, though, Skyline's ridership numbers were higher.

In October there were 92, 578 riders on the city's rail line, while September had 91, 088.

In August, Skyline tallied 96, 178 riders.

And in July—rail's first full month of operation—there were 151, 633 riders, a number that included a fare-free period that began June 30 and ended July 4.

On Independence Day alone Skyline recorded 18, 108 riders—the rail system's record high for one-day ridership thus far.

Meantime, DTS spokesperson Travis Ota confirmed that the city "does not have anticipated ridership for the holiday season."

"But it is important to note that holiday times include students out of schools and people taking off for vacation, " Ota told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser via email. "We are hoping that people utilize the potential of not only Skyline, but public transit ... to get around to their favorite destinations."

Similarly, Morton said the city is promoting the use of HOLO cards to enhance commuter safety during the holidays.

"We urge everybody to be responsible during the Christmas season, " he said. "If you are going to go out, have fun and indulge in alcohol, find a designated driver, find an Uber ride or consider taking public transportation like TheBus."

He added that the HOLO card is "your passport to safe, stress-free riding around town."

To use the HOLO card, tap the card at a card reader when boarding TheBus or at a Skyline station fare gate, the city said.

New and replacement HOLO cards cost $2. There is a $3 minimum when loading or reloading a card. For those with a Senior or Disability HOLO card, the first new card is free, the city says.

The HOLO card can hold a pass or stored value in a linked account.

Stored value is an electronic alternative to cash.

It uses a "smart card " that contains a microprocessor computer chip that both stores electronic currency and processes financial transactions, the city says.

Fares are the same for TheBus and Skyline.

To determine the fare for riding Oahu's public transit, visit TheBus.org.

For further information, call 808-768-4656 (HOLO ) or email info @holocard.net.

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