Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Superferry traffic increase makes front page

by Larry Geller

Is Superferry traffic really increasing? Superferry gets holiday boost in riders According to Brad Parsons' calculations, it all depends. He estimates that trip averages for  May are actually lower than the trip averages in the latter part of April.

I didn't bother searching on the obituary page for a Superferry story today—there was one by Christie Wilson right there on the front page. Of course, it's a highly positive story featuring the numbers released by the ferry company.

Ridership is reported to be up over the Memorial Day weekend. And fortunately, seas are very calm, boding well for holidaymakers and for the ferry company. And a happy ferry company is a continued advertiser. Great all around.

(Christie, we're still waiting for your story on the allegations of defective welds and cracks raised by the April 10 KKCR interview. You can read about that in various articles on the web, including here. Christie, you might also read Kristin Hashimoto's article, Time to jump ship? in the Big Island Weekly.)

Today's story and a similar AP story have numbers on which an analysis might be based of the operation's profitability and perhaps of its viability as a passenger service. But for that, we must depend on Brad Parsons' calculations (Brad says he wishes someone else would do it, but fortunately for us, he does a superb job which would be hard to replicate). Check out Brad's numbers. Since the ferry company is still waiving the fuel surcharge, the fare is a good deal for travelers, but not great for the bottom line.

Despite the glowing page one story, Brad estimates that the ferry won't even have covered its fuel costs for May, not to mention other expenses. He also points out:

Furthermore, those trip averages for the Month of May are actually lower than the trip averages they were having in the latter part of April.

Kind of takes the spin off the good news, doesn't it?

Predictably, while seas remain calm and the fuel surcharge is waived, ridership should increase, particularly from Oahu to Maui. But with oil headed to $200 a barrel, how long can they continue to give it away to their customers?

Now, one day the surf will pick up, and then either there will need to be cancellations or a whole bunch of port-a-potties set up on deck to handle the awesome demand.

Maybe then ferry news will revert to the obituary page.


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Nice recap. You said it better than I could have.

Aloha, Brad

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