Honolulu Skyline as seen from Kapiolani Community College, Photo by David Cabatu

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Oahu Transit Services


Oahu Transit Services operates TheBus and TheHandiVan, the two major modes of public transportation on Oahu.


When drivers of the old Honolulu Rapid Transit Company (HRT) went on strike in 1970, then Mayor Frank Fasi got a $16.4 million federal transit grant and flew to Dallas to buy buses for Honolulu.  He engineered the sale of HRT to the city by setting up a municipal corporation, which later became TheBus.

Today, TheBus has over 100 routes servicing the island of Oahu.  Estimated ridership on any given weekday is 218,000 trips, or 68 million per year.


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires all public transit operators to provide special services to persons whose disabilities prevent them from using lift-equipped public transit.  The special service called TheHandiVan operates at similar times and similar areas as existing fixed route transit.  Paratransit service is provided by accessible vans and sometimes, taxis.  The ADA established specific eligibility criteria for users of paratransit service.

Radio Communications


Prior to migrating to the Honolulu 800 MHz trunked radio system, TheBus used several conventional frequencies in the 452 MHz range.

TheBus transitioned onto the 800 MHz radio system in November 2002, complete with mobile data computer and GPS capability.  The dual-radio/computer setup allows dispatchers to not only communicate with the buses, but to locate them as well.  The latter would prove helpful when rerouting buses onto other routes that are late or who miss trips altogether.  One could say that a reroute is an inconvenience, but is a necessity considering that there are many high-density bus routes in areas like Ala Moana, Downtown Honolulu, and popular tourist destinations like Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay.

Transit Centers

As with any transit system, there is a series of transfer centers that customers can transfer from one bus to another.

- Ala Moana Shopping Center is the biggest transit center in Honolulu.
- Other transit centers are located in Kalihi/Palama Bus Facility, Halawa Bus Facility, Hawaii Kai, Kapolei, Waipahu, Mililani/Central Oahu, and Ewa Beach.  There are others that are not listed, as I am not too familiar with the transit system (I'm a driver, not a busser!)


Prior to migrating to the Honolulu 800 MHz trunked radio system, TheHandiVan used several conventional frequencies in the 860 MHz range.

TheHandiVan transitioned onto the 800 MHz radio system in November 2003.  They have five talkgroups, of which channels 1, 2, and 3 are used the most.

Radio Call Signs


Buses use three-digit ID numbers found on all corners of the fleet vehicle, including the top.

Buses identify themselves by Key and Route Number, as in Bus 500, Key 5 on 20.  The key indicates the order of buses on the route, in this case Bus 500 is the 5th bus on Route 20.

Most communications deal with resource handling (i.e., adjusting a late bus by having it go out of service to a particular time point, where it resumes the route at the scheduled time, scheduling replacement buses when others are running late, requesting help from authorities (police, fire, or ambulance) with the assistance of transit supervisors.

Road Supervisors identify themselves as Transit, as in Transit 10.

The fleet consists of approximately 525 buses.


The vans itself has a four-digit ID number, but employees use their own ID number on the radio.

The first vans hit the road around 4:30 a.m. from the Kalihi Facility on North King Street.  Drivers identify themselves with their employee ID number as well as the vehicle number that they're driving.

Like TheBus, most communications deal with resource handling (i.e. scheduling/adjusting pickups and drop-offs, assigning vans to a particular location for a pick-up, and so forth.)

When dispatchers use the term minusing (it's not even a word!), they mean "drop off".

Riders are marked as "no shows" when they fail to be a their pickup point 5 minutes after their van arrives, cancellations are frequent as well.

The fleet consists of approximately 100 vans.

For More Information

Offical website: http://www.thebus.org/ and http://www.thebus.org/Info/Paratransit.asp

Recent News

5 August - Radio AH7E Hawaii sports a new look!

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