Public Transport Systems and Infrastructure Solutions to Reduce Fossil Fuel Dependence on Hawaii Island (2014)

Client Organization: 
The Kohala Center
Project Location : 
1/4 Hawai'i Island, HI and 3/4 Ann Arbor, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

Residents of Hawaii Island pay some of the highest rates for electricity and petroleum products among residents of the United States.  Moreover, the islands of the Hawaiian archipelago rely almost entirely on imported petroleum fuels for both transportation and energy generation.  Though Hawaii Island has integrated more renewable energy onto 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 we have designed this project to assess the need for improvements to this system. We will develop suggestions for optimizing the current system, as well as potential alternatives that include the establishment of carpooling and ride-sharing 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 is to develop a set of recommendations for the County of Hawaii 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. 

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Informatics
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Jeremiah Johnson
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Jonas Epstein, MS Environmental Policy and Planning 
  • Maite Madrazo, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Trevor McManamon, MS Sustainable Systems
  • Daphne Medina, MBA/MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Xiaofei Wen, MS Environmental Informatics
Project Status: 
Past Project