Possibly the final chance to get your voice heard regarding the Oahu-centric Superferry, as they decided to kindly offer public hearings on all the neighboring islands affected. But what are these hearings exactly?
No matter the rulings, ultimately stopping the Superferry seems out of the people’s hands. These hearings -which are being called “Public Informational Hearings” and are to be attended by Members of the Senate committees on Judiciary and Labor, Energy and Environment and Transportation and International Affairs– seem to mainly be about appeasing the public and allowing them to restate their opinions on…a bill that is already written! Which may be voted on in a special session on Wednesday in O’ahu! And that will likely allow commencement of Superferry operations. Will they be adopting certain protections in place prior to an Environmental Impact Study being completed? The Starbulletin reported:
State lawmakers’ final draft of the Superferry-savior bill rejects the 29 conditions that environmentalists and ferry opponents had demanded be part of any measure to keep the boat afloat. Legislators unveiled the final draft of the bill yesterday and noted that while the environmentalists’ demands were not included, the proposed law includes about 20 new pages that reference Hawaii environmental impact law. The bill would allow the Superferry to restart service to Kauai and Maui while the state does a months-long study of the environmental impact of the interisland service.
As mentioned in the Big Island’s newspaper, the Hawai’i Tribune Herald (featuring its dependable one-sided reporting, blog-worthy spelling and vocabulary [well, blogs are oft more eloquent], reprinted AP articles, and finally, thankfully, listing information on some local government shindigs and a few links…hey, save a tree, check that shit online!):
“We refer to this as an informational briefing because it comes before the bill is formally introduced, but we expect to spend more time listening than talking,” said Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-Manoa, McCully, who will be acting as chairman of the combined committees. “Those who could be affected by the Superferry’s operations should take the time to review the draft bill and share their concerns or comments.” The draft bill and instructions on how to submit written testimony are available on the Legislature’s Web site, http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov.
Do some grand finalé research first, then attend with your important opinions. Get their early to sign up (or click here for fax or email instructions) to be heard…well, if you can condense your thoughts in a two minute time-frame. The blog Dissapeared News humorously called them “Speed Dating” hearings. With a reader adding: “Speed dating is a nice metaphor for the Senate hearings – just hope that it doesn’t turn into ‘date rape’.”
Hawai’i residents -other than those from O’ahu- should really look at the actual time and cost to travel to the outer islands with your car via the Superferry. If you are supporting this big boat because you think you’re going to enjoy some super savings and easy inter-island travel – think again!
…Post posting, I’ll add my some excess never published from a previous Superferry article I wrote regarding fees:
Though you’ll be hard pressed to score Go! Airline’s advertised $19 seats -I see a few available in June 2008, for example…and need to be supa-quick to snatch up the sporatic 24-hour $9 fare-war specials- for the most part airfares now run a reasonable $39 plus tax and airport fees each way for something to and from Oahu. It’s not so bad.
Of course, you may have read the articles reporting on Go! / Mesa Airline’s big plans for Hawai’i. They were welcomed by the people after telling them their goal was to offer affordable inter-island air travel, yet eventually it was uncovered that perhaps they never had the public’s interests in mind when emails detailing their real goal – to eventually put Aloha Airlines out of business and then raise rates even higher than they were before they arrived! There is a suit filed by Aloha and another by Hawaiian Airlines – see “dontflygo.com” for more info. Part of the problem, is businesses like Mesa who go into markets with their bargain fares and big federal subsidies, then leave once those subsidies end, claiming “it would not be profitable to continue flying to [insert city here] after the subsidy ends… We’ve done the calculations, and it just doesn’t make sense…” leaving the public scrambling and competing airlines still recuperating. And Mesa, they take the money and run.
Was this a business model admired by Superferry heads? Who knows – though other Superferry operations have gone in such a way. One thing we do know, is that one of their original selling points to the public was that the were going to offer an affordable alternative mode of inter-island travel. The cost? It was supposed to be half the cost of airfare.
Many tried to take advantage of the $5 introductory fare for the first Superferry voyages (only to be turned away from Kauai, or get themselves and their cars stuck on Maui when the return voyages were canceled!) – but the regular fare will be much higher, as “Doug” announces on his Poinography blog “Warning: prepare yourself for sticker shock“. Though maybe we need to give some leeway considering gas prices were lower at the time they were estimating fares [now there’s a fluctuating 28.3% fuel surcharge], and that airflights might have been higher then… still yet….
A roundtrip Superferry trip with surcharge would cost an average of $120 per passenger, and an additional $140 for one small vehicle (peak days cost more and again the price is higher to then get to a neighboring island). Also, your infant or child under two-years, who flies free on the airlines, will cost $17 each way. Surfboards, coolers, and any over-sized luggage are an additional fee unless they are in or atop your car. Same with dogs….inside the car (that should be interesting if it’s a typically hot Hawai’i day). That’s not necessarily a bargain in comparison to airlines, but there are advantages.
Unfortunately, these advantages seem most relevant only if you are going on an extended trip, potentially sleep in said vehicle, and are going to fill your car with everything from surfboards to doggy. When you add up a surf vacation via airline for the week: avg. $100 round trip, $25 each way, (dog another $25 each way), $150 car rental per week (best rate usually Alamo via the Costco website or Steve at Rent-a-Wreck on Kauai or Maui Surf Report on Maui), $300 hotel (though many residents have friends or family to stay with when visiting, and rates from camping to hotels vary)… you could be spending some bucks for a safari to another island.
Disadvantages? Okay Big Island residents, did you want to go to Maui via the Superferry? I mean, we can see the island from our coast, shouldn’t be that long of a trip. Well, are you ready for a 4 1/2 hour boat ride -passing Maui- to Oahu, get there late in the day, then I’m not certain what you do in the meantime, but you better find a car or taxi unless you brought yours, then get a room I guess, ’cause you won’t be leaving Oahu ’til the next day at 11am, when you get to go through the boarding process all over again and sail for another 3 hours. After two days of inconvenience, you will need a good night sleep so you’re ready to really start your vacation…. ugh…
Is your desire to surf Tunnels with Andy Irons worth filling Kauai with the coqui frogs they do not want? Personal vehicles by the hundreds per day potentially carrying pests of varying sorts is not comparable to Matson shipping mostly new vehicles and mainland vehicles. If you are for the Superferry and for some of the environmental precautions, add many more hours to your trip because the ship needs to go much slower to prevent marine disasters with whales and other marine life. And if a spray wash of the vehicle is adopted –which still yet wouldn’t kill off the beloved fire ants that are inside the car (hey, on Big Island you find them in there all the time now!)— add more time in the harbor boarding. Okay, not a soap box moment, but until they put precautions in place it’s not okay to allow government and big business to ignore state laws and think the concerned kama’aina should stand idly by.
Are there positive aspects to a Superferry? Sure (and as a Big Island resident I could consider investing in a VW Bus and take advantage of a few surf trips – I just don’t see that my personal pleasure is worth the overall ill-effects – and without an unbiased commission overseeing an EIS we can’t be absolutely certain what those effects truly are). Does it suck that the state could be out hundreds of thousands of dollars, employees out of jobs, and the company in debt if the project goes under? Of course. Those contributing state funds could have been used on schools, teachers, highways that are already congested with traffic in areas that aren’t equipt to handle more!, etc.) But let’s keep clear on why this happened in the first place and what’s the most respectful resolution.
Be there … or don’t complain:
KAUAI: Sunday, October 21, 2pm, King Kaumali’i Elementary School Cafeteria, Hanama’ulu (turn by 7-11). This is the one to go to! How will the people of Kauai react?
MAUI: Monday, 3 p.m., Baldwin High School Auditorium in Wailuku.
BIG ISLAND: Tuesday, 3 p.m., Kealakehe High School in Kailua-Kona.
More Recommended Reading:
Other YahooGroup posts
Ian Lind’s reporting is worth a look