Four new Maui Economic Opportunity buses that will be used to transport Maui youths, seniors and persons with disabilities were blessed Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at the MEO baseyard in Puunene.
The 29-passenger buses were purchased by the County of Maui for a total of $570,000 as part of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are replacements for buses that are more than 12 years old.
One of the buses will be used for youths as young as preschool age and includes integrated child safety seats. This yellow bus was purchased for $135,000.
The other three buses are Americans with Disabilities Act accessible with two wheelchair slots. The buses, which cost $145,000 each, will be used as rural shopping shuttles and to transport persons with disabilities living outside the three-quarter mile paratransit service area.
The new buses are equipped with Mor Ryde suspension systems to reduce vibration and shock for a smoother ride and an automatic door opener for wheelchair access.
In 2020, MEO Transportation provided more than 357,000 rides throughout Maui County. MEO runs the Maui Bus ADA paratransit service through a contract with Maui County. The nonprofit agency also operates human services transportation, providing rides for seniors, persons with disabilities, youths and residents in rural areas throughout Maui County.
Transportation is only one sector of MEO, a nonprofit Community Action Agency formed 55 years ago. The agency offers programs countywide for business development; youths, including workforce preparation, substance abuse prevention and Head Start; senior club coordination; rental and energy assistance; and integration of formerly incarcerated individuals into the community.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino takes a ride in a newly blessed Maui Economic Opportunity bus purchased by the County of Maui on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at the MEO Puunene base yard. – Photo by Even Dust
The Rev. Tino Cordova of Iao United Church of Christ blesses one of four new buses, operated by Maui Economic Opportunity, at the MEO baseyard in Puunene on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The 29-seat buses, purchased by the County of Maui, will serve youths, seniors, persons with disabilities and rural residents. – Photo by Maui Economic Development
Shown is one of four new buses blessed Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, at the Maui Economic Opportunity baseyard in Puunene. Attending the blessing were (from left): Debbie Cabebe, CEO of MEO; Marc Takamori, director of the county Department of Transportation; the Rev. Tino Cordova of Iao United Church of Christ, who blessed the buses; Maui County Council Member Tasha Kama, who is also an MEO board member; Harry Johnson, MEO transportation director; and Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. – Photo by Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.