Hawaiian interisland ferry dreams face high costs, low public opinion _ the japan times

HONOLULU – When a ferry loomed outside a Kauai harbor in 2007, surfers and kayakers — looking like tiny ducks in comparison — blocked its path, sending the giant catamaran back to Oahu.

Now the state is exploring bringing back a ferry to run between islands, facing skepticism over financing and whether there is a ferry system that residents would accept.

Lawmakers in May approved $50,000 to study a possible interisland ferry, and the state Department of Transportation received a $500,000 grant from the federal Maritime Administration to hire consultants to explore potential routes and boats.

“The feasibility study might come back and say maybe it’s not financially feasible for us to do this,” said Ford Fuchigami, director of the state Transportation Department.

Hawaiian vacation packages for two all inclusive “But right now, using federal money which is available … we want to be sure that we use that money to see whether or not this is possible.”

The Hawaii Superferry ran primarily between Oahu and Maui from 2007 until 2009 but was shut down after a judge ruled that the state had broken the law by not completing required environmental reviews.

It was a costly gamble. Hawaii vacation trips Hawaii spent at least $34 million on equipment for the ferry, which it later sold for just $425,000. Hawaii vacation destinations The barges and ramps were custom-made for the Superferry, complicating the sale, said Tim Sakahara, Department of Transportation spokesman.

Hawaii Superferry filed for bankruptcy, leaving $136.8 million in debt to the Maritime Administration — which repossessed the ferries — and a $22.9 million debt to Austal USA, which built two ferries for Hawaii for $190 million. Cheap package holidays to hawaii The navy later paid the Maritime Administration just $35 million to buy both ships. Best deals in hawaii One now serves as a ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia.

“In the beginning, people believed what they were reading, that it was going to be this really low-cost way to go interisland, and it sounded like a great thing,” said Irene Bowie, former executive director of the Maui Tomorrow Foundation, which opposed the ferry based on environmental concerns. Package deals for hawaii “But the devil is always in the details.”

The new study will explore public or private ownership of vessels and operations. Hawaii vacation packages all inclusive If the state owns the vessels, it could get federal subsidies, Fuchigami said. Hawaii vacation for two But it might be cheaper for a third party to operate a ferry system, he said.

“Almost no ferry system in the country is self-sustaining,” said Lauren Brand, an associate administrator for the Maritime Administration. Hawaii vacation rental “The vast majority of them have to have public dollars to help them keep on.”

Washington state’s ferry system, which Fuchigami has identified as a potential model for Hawaii, gets 30 percent of its operating costs from subsidies and 70 percent from the fare box, ferry experts said. Cheap deals to hawaii The Staten Island Ferry in New York, where customers ride for free, is also subsidized by taxpayers.

But Hawaii can learn from ferry systems operating in the Greek islands, the Philippines and between Argentina and Uruguay, said David Moseley, a former director of Washington Ferries and senior consultant with Carus, a firm that may compete to conduct the Hawaii study.

Fuchigami is considering a red-eye trip from Honolulu to Hawaii Island and interisland trips from Oahu to Kauai and Maui. Hawaii best deal packages He also wants commuter ferries on Oahu and Maui.

Superferry wasn’t the only failed sea vessel attempt in Hawaii. Hawaii packages cheap In 2009, the same year the Superferry shut down, Honolulu ended a passenger ferry service called TheBoat, which shuttled passengers between downtown Honolulu and West Oahu for $2. Cheap vacation deals to hawaii A ferry running from Molokai to Maui shut down this year amid financial losses.