Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Unreliability was obviously not part of the ferry plan, but now what?

by Larry Geller

Yes, the Governor and most legislators were all gung-ho to support the hype around this new service. And indeed, an interisland ferry service may make sense, but so far, this one is disappointing.

It's not just the loss of service days. Real, individual lives are negatively impacted by cancellations and no doubt some businesses too.

The best summary I've seen appeared in this insightful observation by Maui resident Karen Anderson:

I really want to hear the passenger stories on this one. Sail over for the weekend and get stranded for five days! What to do?  Spend big bucks on accommodations and just wait it out? Or book a last-minute flight for big bucks and leave your car behind, then rent a car when you get home so you can get around? Then wait for your car to arrive on the next non-canceled voyage, but be sure to bring someone with you because you'll have to drop off your rental car on the way.  Jeeze... thank god Superferry really goes out of its way to help, what with the 5% rental car discount!!

Many of us have experienced airplane flight cancellations. But at least your car isn't in limbo also. After reading Karen's email, I had a greater appreciation for the major hassle faced by anyone taking their vehicle on the ferry and not being able to get it back. And what if it's a business truck loaded with tools?

The newspapers wrote about all the happy passengers, but who is checking into the inconvenience caused by the numerous cancellations?  :)  --->  :(

There's been little payback so far for the Governor's efforts. Too many cancellations, low passenger counts when it runs. As we look toward this weekend, the ferry has not run for three days and tomorrow may not be a good day for them either (if they do sail in rough seas, it won't be too good for the passengers).

Had an EIS been completed, the expectations might have been lower. People would know that the service is really an "as available" add-on to existing air service. Perhaps a different ship configuration might have worked better.

Maybe an expedited way to get vehicles across the water would be a better deal. In other words, people fly, meet their car on the other side. I'm just thinking out loud, but we actually did that returning from Sapporo to Tokyo when we lived there. The car was on the ferry, and although the seas were rough, we didn't hear any complaints from it when we met it at the dock in Tokyo the next day. We had a great flight, with fine views of snow-capped mountains, and even a decent lunch included. No sea sickness cruising along at 10,000 meters. I was able to take the subway to pick up my car, no rental necessary. The ferry company offloaded cars into a parking lot where they could be conveniently claimed. It was included in the fare.

Existing services on Maui have to make way for the ferry barge, which is probably very disruptive to commerce. To remedy that, the state is planning a huge investment in proposed harbor improvements.  It's an investment which at present only benefits a single company.

Shouldn't we learn from this experience and make a better plan? Why not start now?

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Is a step missing here?
I haven't heard that ferry workers will put your car on ..for you. You'll probably have to fly back to Maui and do that yourself. Rudder repair may take a while, maybe ya better call Matson. Maybe HSF will charter a plane for ya'all.

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