Maui Economic Opportunity’s Lanai Shopping Shuttle to Maui resumed Tuesday, May 11 after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funded through Maui County grants, MEO buses pick up residents, mostly seniors, from their homes, take them to Manele Harbor to board the Expeditions ferry to Lahaina. MEO buses meet them at Lahaina Small Boat Harbor and take them shopping on the west side before returning them to the harbor for the return trip.
The Lanai Shopping Shuttle runs once a week on Tuesdays, leaving on the ferry at 8:15 a.m. and returning at 1 p.m. The May 11 shopping shuttle was at full capacity of 10 travelers, as is the next trip on Tuesday, May 18.
MEO buses take the group to Lahaina businesses, including the Outlets of Maui; the Lahaina Gateway, which includes Foodland Farms, Ross Stores and Ace Hardware; the Lahaina Cannery Mall, which includes Safeway and Longs Drugs; Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors and Island Grocery Depot.
The shuttle expansion is the brainchild of former Council Member Riki Hokama, who held the Lanai residency seat. He recognized that shopping on the island was expensive for residents and asked MEO to provide more opportunities for residents to access the shopping shuttle program. Three years ago, he secured $10,000 for the free service, which mostly goes to defray the ferry ticket costs. MEO utilizes its Human Services transportation grant.
When the program began three years ago, MEO ran buses from Lahaina Harbor to stores in Kahului, including Costco, three times a week. But pandemic stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions shut it down in April 2020.
The shopping shuttle used to take most of the day but the hours had to be shortened because the last ferry currently leaves at 1 p.m. daily.
For more information on the shuttle and how to apply, contact the MEO Lanai office at (808) 565-6665. Travelers are allowed to bring a rolling cooler or cart; they cannot go off on their own or request to return on a different ferry.
MEO also operates shopping shuttles to and from remote areas to town on Lanai and Molokai and East Maui to Central Maui. For more information on the shuttles, contact MEO Transportation at (808) 877-7651.