Saturday, May 16, 2009


State not ready to face reality of Superferry failure

by Larry Geller

Yesterday I asked: So what’s happening with the $40 million harbor improvement money to be paid by Hawaii Superferry? 

Inside today’s Advertiser story on the upcoming auction of Hawaii Superferry equipment is this:

Hawaii Superferry is in the process of canceling its revocable leases with the state Department of Transportation for harbor space, according to Michael Formby, DOT deputy director of the Harbors Division.

The state has no plans at this point to lease the properties to anyone else or to sell off $40 million worth of barges, ramps and other equipment purchased to load and unload vehicles from the ferries, Formby said.

"It's way too early for that. ... We are awaiting more information from HSF before we make any decisions which might negatively affect their ability to resume service," Formby said in an e-mail to The Advertiser.

It appears that Formby believes that the Superferry, which was, by outside estimation, operating at a huge loss, might come back to Hawaii to continue losing money. Of course, with a different (smaller) ferryboat, a future service might be profitable, but HSF at the moment has only these two ships that are coincidentally the size of large military transports.

Hawaii is not doing well with ferries at the moment. Honolulu’s commuter ferry cost the city approximately $120 to provide a single $4 round trip. (Nor are city officials generating much confidence in this writer that the are capable of calculating how much it will cost to run their proposed train service.)

Perhaps the DOT’s expectation relates to the question of recovering the $40 million in harbor improvements. Maybe they don’t want to close that proverbial barn door.

Well, when Governor Lingle calls for state worker furloughs, I hope someone will ask her whether she will first be recovering that $40 million. Not that it necessarily goes into the general fund, that’s also a question I think should be understood. If some amount is to be recovered, it has to go back someplace. Why not sell off the barges, ramps and other equipment and save jobs?

We don’t owe the Superferry a parting gift of that size, so I hope that the question will be answered.

For curious readers, here is the text of the third mortgage that the state holds against non-payment. It’s not like we didn’t contemplate this situation.



The money does not go into the general fund. It goes to servicing a revenue bond. The other harbor users just have to pick up the slack to pay for the $40 million. Which is all the more reason why the other harbor users should get use of the space that was used by HSF, since they will be paying for it.

Also, the new EIS should be re-Scoped since it is not clear that HSF will be the one to take advantage of it. Nor was it ever clear that the type of vessel that HSF was using would ever be commercially viable. The EIS should be re-Scoped.

Brad is finally admitting the EIS was not unique to HSF, but as he points out, could be used for other ferry operators. In which case, the Supreme Court's first ruling was incorrect.

Kimo, no the new Chapter 343 EIS by it's content should not be company nor vessel specific. Act 2 was company and vessel specific. The Supreme Court in it's infinite wisdom is correct.

Post a Comment

Requiring those Captcha codes at least temporarily, in the hopes that it quells the flood of comment spam I've been receiving.

<< Home


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Newer›  ‹Older