By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
The Mooheau bus terminal will have a changing of the guard after the new year.
RMT Enterprises Security Division will replace the Hilo Downtown Improvement Association as the terminal’s operator, responsible for selling bus tickets and providing passengers with information on routes.
The new contract begins Jan. 1.
The Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency selected RMT Enterprises through a bidding process, said Administrator Tiffany Kai.
The company offered the lowest cost of the five bidders and will receive $126.40 a day for compensation, she said.
That works out to approximately $32,000 a year. The terminal’s office is closed on weekends and holidays.
The HDIA received about $45,000 a year, Kai said.
HDIA first began providing the services for Mass Transit, also known as Hele-On, about 10 years ago after it partnered with the county to create the office, said Executive Director Alice Moon, who was disappointed by the loss of the contract.
The contract was renewed every year, but Kai said the agency wanted to lower its costs and chose to put it out to bid.
“The county has to stay within its means,” she said. “We had some increases over the years.”
Moon said the downtown group received an increase in commission from 10 percent to 15 percent to help cover its expenses.
The new contract doesn’t provide commission on ticket sales, she said.
Moon said operating the terminal office helped the group promote downtown Hilo and East Hawaii to visitors. She thinks the HDIA was best suited to provide that service.
Last year, 34,702 people used the office, according to HDIA. More than 5,000 were counted as tourists.
The group’s only other office is on the second floor of a building on Waianuenue Avenue and it will look for a storefront location to be more accessible to the public, she said.
“It allowed us to put a good face on downtown Hilo,” Moon said of the terminal location. “It allowed us to reach visitors pouring into Hilo from all over the place.”
Moon said the HDIA tried to lower its offer, but already relied largely on volunteer help.
“It would be extremely difficult for anybody to operate with that kind of contract,” Moon said, referring to the accepted bid.
RMT Enterprises didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.