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Businesses, residents lobby to keep community bus route

Date Posted: 2008-09-12

A community bus winding its way along a route around Gate Two Street, Koza Intersection and Plaza Housing area is coming to the end of a test phase, with community leaders, businesses and citizens telling Okinawa City the bus service should be made permanent.

The bus service was instituted in February, supported by the local residents association, Okinawa City Tourism Association, Prefecture Bus Union representatives and the Senior Club Union. Virtually all say the bus service has been a success, although a committee group studying the operations concedes there may need to be some adjustments and tweaking if it’s to stay. Businesses and residents not only want the route to stay, but add they want it expanded. They would also like to see other routes spread across a wider area of Okinawa City.

Users and organizers say buses should be available to serve disabled passengers, noting there needs to be buses with low floors to accommodate wheelchairs boarding the buses. Okinawa City officials say continuing the service will cost it ¥50~60 million, and is looking for public funds.

The monitoring committee members have ridden the community bus, which has been rented from NPO Corporation Omnibus Bus Company. The bus is designed to accommodate disabled people using wheelchairs. “This bus is great,” one committee member exclaimed. “It can easily be used by disabled people, and it can also go down narrow streets.” The handicapped access bus is smaller than a standard city or tourist express bus.

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