Senate President Donna Kim under fire for campaign tactics used in Congressional race
Sen. Donna Kim

BY JIM DOOLEY – State Sen. Donna Kim, a frequent critic of programs and activities at state airports, got an unpleasant surprise when she took the new shuttle service from Honolulu International Airport to her home in the Kalihi neighborhood of Honolulu.

Kim was charged more than twice the advertised price for the trip.

“It was supposed to cost $14.55 to go to Kalihi but they came back and said it was $32,” Kim said at a legislative hearing yesterday.

The lower price was based on the frequently travelled but more distant shuttle route to Waikiki, but that didn’t mollify Kim.

“You pay double the amount to go one-third the distance,” Kim said.

To make matters worse, when Kim called state airport officials to complain, they didn’t know about the price increase, which was instituted by the shuttle operator, SpeediShuttle, within 30 days of landing the five-year contract last year.

The price increase was added “for a few areas” on Oahu, Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said yesterday.

State Transportation Department Deputy Director Ford Fuchigami ruefully acknowledged that he learned about the shuttle contractor’s price changes from Kim.

He said the state didn’t expect the company to make the price changes but acknowledged there was no language in the contract to prevent the move.

“We weren’t prepared to see a company (do that) within less than 30 days of getting a contract,” Fuchigami said.

He called SpeediShuttle officials into his office the same day he heard from Kim, he told the senator in a briefing session today.

Company officials “actually came from Maui” to meet with Fuchigami, he said.

Meisenzahl said the company has reverted to its former pricing structure.

And Fuchigami said state attorneys “are working to see that this doesn’t happen again.”

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com