Ulupono Initiative
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Expanding Transportation Opportunities on Hawaiʻi Island

Hawaii Island residents pay some of the highest rates for electricity and petroleum products in the United States. Moreover, the entire state relies on imported petroleum fuels for 92 percent of our transportation and energy generation. Though Hawaii Island has integrated more renewable energy into its electrical grid than anywhere else in the U.S., the reliance on fossil fuel remains high because more than half the energy demand of the island can be attributed to transportation. Traditionally mass transit systems can be used to increase energy efficiency, as well as energy sustainability. As a result, this project was designed to explore the need for improvements to this system. Suggestions were developed for optimizing the current system, as well as potential alternatives that include the establishment of carpooling and ridesharing networks that would decrease the number of private vehicles used and thus fuel consumption.

The University of Michigan team was engaged by The Kohala Center to examine and analyze the public transit system of Hawaii Island. The primary objective of the project was to develop a set of recommendations for public and private investments focused on high‐impact solutions to reduce fossil fuel use in the island’s ground transportation system, while improving accessibility and lowering travel times for commuters.

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