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How Kauai Is Using Data to Reimagine Greener Transportation for the Island

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Situation:

Kauai is a very popular destination, attracting over a million visitors annually. With most tourists turning to rental cars to get around the island, there are roughly 8,000-10,000 rental cars leased on Kauai at any given time, with the amount increasing to 12,000 a day on long weekends. The car-dependent tourists combined with residential commuters contributes to shared frustration about traffic and congested roadways. With limitations in the near future to expand roads and highways on a large scale, the island needs other solutions to reduce reliance on car transportation.

Challenge:

The County of Kauai wanted to study decarbonization and implementation of multi-modal solutions for Kauai’s transportation system. As the County and other Kauai-based transportation stakeholders look into strategies to chart a more sustainable future when it comes to transportation, the team analyzed data from several sources to understand the existing travel patterns around the island, including:

Hawaii Tourism Authority
visitor survey data

Hawaii Department of
Transportation data

Anecdotal visibility into
congestion points

While all of these sources provided a key piece of the puzzle for the purposes of the study, each was subject to certain selection biases or limitations into visibility. The project team wanted to get a more representative understanding of travel patterns across residents and visitors that revealed origins and destinations, distance traveled, and variations across time of day, day of the week, and seasonality.

Solution:

To provide more comprehensive data in the search for transportation solutions, Kauai’s team turned to Near for location intelligence to answer key questions, including:

  • Where are the island’s hotspots and origin and destination points for visitors and residents?
  • What are the main travel corridors based on time of day?
  • How far do tourists typically drive in a day?
  • What do transportation patterns look like at different times of year?

The team accessed Near’s location intelligence, with insights around origin and destination points around the island, pathing between origin and destination, and pin reports at key hotspots. They also looked at data breakouts by time of day, day of the week and key seasons, as well as looking at data for tourists versus residents. With this information, they were able to sift through and analyze extensive data points and pull together comprehensive visualizations into a travel pattern analysis report for Kauai.

With location intelligence from Near largely building travel pattern analysis and informing final recommendations, Kauai transportation stakeholders are exploring how to reimagine travel on the island, considering innovative solutions including:

Creating mobility hubs around the island where tourists can access a suite of transportation services
Setting up a public electric
charging station network
around the island
Increasing the availability of micro transportation offerings like bikes and scooters
Introducing shuttles and first/last mile micro-transit solutions
Encouraging use of
car share
Establishing satellite car rental locations around the island

The data and visualizations have helped the Kauai team validate their anecdotal understanding of travel hotspots and hot corridors, which in turn can be utilized for Kauai’s future transportation plans and projects. Going forward, the data can also be used to help paint the picture for the private sector and be a reference for funding applications- whether to demonstrate specific project need, viability of new routes and tours to private shuttle and tour operators, or show car rental companies where it may make sense to have additional rental locations outside of the airport.

“Our partnership with Near has provided a key source of data to drive Kauai’s transportation study forward. The data provides critical insight and validation around travel patterns on the island. Plus, the data are hugely helpful as we work on making the case to key stakeholders to evolve our transportation offerings.”

Christina Kaser Energy Coordinator, County of Kauai

Results:

With Near data, Kauai transportation stakeholders are in a better position to reimagine travel on their island. Near’s location intelligence helped the team:

Contribute to the initiation of planning for a mobility hub located at a hotspot on the island, a first phase in the larger plan of visioning a network of mobility hubs across Kauai.

Understand and validate travel patterns for both visitors and residents on the island to inform recommendations for transportation solutions

Visualize travel patterns to inform project concepts presented to key, non-technical stakeholders.

Create a process for rethinking transportation that Kauai can serve as a model for other global destinations.

In addition to the above, the project helped the team create a process for rethinking transportation that Kauai can serve as a model for other global destinations.

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