Hele-On awarded $270,000 for Pāhoa Transit Hub planning

Hele-on, in partnership with the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT), received $270,000 from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Areas of Persistent Poverty (AoPP) program late last month. As a result, the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation will receive funding to plan for a transit hub in downtown Pāhoa in conjunction with the County and will support a fixed-route transit system to better connect people to jobs and opportunities.

SSFM International has been selected as the consultant to complete the site selection, environmental analysis, and 30% of the design. A public outreach process is included in this project. Eleven sites will be looked at to determine the feasibility of a transit hub with amenities discussed at public meetings. Additionally, the consultant team will evaluate the potential of colocating a future Pāhoa Public Library at the Transit Hub with funding from the Hawaiʻi State Public Libraries to fund that effort.

“We are elated to hear that we will be receiving $270,000 in partnership with the HDOT to create a much-needed, innovative facility that will serve as an excellent community focal point for our Puna communities, once constructed,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “Creating communities with access to affordable food, jobs, and transportation services is key to fostering a sustainable
Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can thrive and succeed for generations to come.”

The USDOT will provide $16.2 million to fund 40 projects in 32 states and territories. FTA grants the awards on a competitive basis to state and local governments, transit agencies, and nonprofit organizations to create better transit for residents with limited or no transportation options.

“For millions of people in communities big and small, transit is a lifeline,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Every American should have a way to get to work affordably or school, buy fresh food, access medical care, and visit their loved ones – and these transit grants will help make that a reality in 45 underserved communities across the country.”

The program supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative and general goals of advancing racial equity and improving public health and the environment through transportation planning that results in new or better transit services. AoPP grants are awarded for planning, engineering, technical studies, or financial plans to improve transit in Census-defined low-income areas. The program also supports coordinated human service transportation planning to improve transit service or provide new services, including paratransit. Thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the FTA expects to be able to support more projects in the next round of grant awards. FTA received applications totaling close to $63 million in funding requests. Projects were selected based on criteria described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Information on prior-year funded projects under the program, previously known as the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) initiative.

“The Mass Transit Agency is excited to provide Puna with enhanced transit services and start the formal planning effort for the Pāhoa Transit Hub,” stated John Andoh, Mass Transit Administrator & General Manager. “We are also excited about our partnership with the Hawaiʻi State Public Libraries and Hawaiʻi Office of Planning and Sustainable Development to potentially plan to co-locate a library within the future hub.”