Superferry ceases operations immediately

Robert Harris
Robert Harris
Sen. J. Kalani English
Sen. J. Kalani English

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The latest step in the Hawaii Superferry saga forces the company to cease service immediately.

The company's decision came Monday afternoon, hours after a ruling from the Hawaii State Supreme Court.

A special law, called Act 2, was created to let the Superferry sail across Hawaiian waters. Monday, the justices ruled the law is unconstitutional, because it only benefited one company: the Hawaii Superferry.

Act 2 allowed the Superferry to operate between Maui and Oahu the last 11 months without a complete environmental impact statement (EIS).  Only a draft EIS has been completed.

Now environmentalists, community groups and even some lawmakers are saying, "I told you so."

Since the Hawaii Superferry began its Maui-Oahu service, almost 250,000 went aboard its Alakai ship.

Disappointed, the company released the following statement:  "We want to proceed prudently and have decided to cease operations for the present."

"Every business, every person should be treated fairly," said Hawaii Sierra Club Director Robert Harris.

Harris says if the Superferry did an environmental review two or three years ago, it wouldn't be in this situation.

"We're happy of the idea that the Supreme Court upheld the rule of law, but we're not terribly thrilled with the overall implications," said Harris.

The loss of 200-plus jobs and one less mode of transportation to and from neighbor islands.

State Sen. J. Kalani English (D-East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kaho'olawe) is one of five lawmakers who voted against Act 2. He says it was passed before the Superferry complied with environmental laws.

"We've never been against the Superferry operating, we just wanted them to operate legally," said Sen. English.

Gov. Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) may file a motion for the high court to reconsider its ruling.

"Our reading at the time, it was a correct decision, it was a right decision," said Gov. Lingle.

She says losing the Maui-Oahu ferry service would be devastating.

"There are so many small businesses that have come to rely on it," said Gov. Lingle.  "It's a less expensive way for people to travel between the islands; it's a great service."

The Superferry will make one last trip Thursday to get vehicles back to their homes. The company says it will take care of any customers who already bought tickets for travel in the near future.