Town hall meeting talks Superferry resurrection

Town hall meeting talks Superferry resurrection

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some say the Hawaii Superferry was a bust, but could it be making a comeback?

A town hall meeting Monday night organized by two mariners' unions revisited the idea.

This comes four months after independent candidate for governor Mufi Hannemann announced he wanted to bring the Superferry back. He was one of the several speakers Monday night, most of which are for an inter-island ferry system, but also realize the hurdles that come along with it.

Proponents of an inter-island ferry system took the stage at the old Superferry terminal at Honolulu Harbor in front of a much smaller crowd than organizers were expecting.

"The Hawaii Superferry is an issue that's dear to me. At the time this ship was running, I was living over on the big island in Waimea," said one speaker.

Like that speaker, many other local maritime workers lost their jobs when the company went bankrupt in 2009.

For Maui merchant marine Kanoa Taylor, being able to work at home on a ferry, would be a dream come true.

"I live on Maui, I commute to New York. I'm away for a few weeks then I come home and I'm home for a few weeks," said Taylor.

While an inter-island ferry would create more jobs, lawmakers remember the controversies that came along when the Superferry first set sail in 2007.

"I think we've seen with the demise of our airline industry and the cost going up, whether or not it's time to look at another alternative. But again, whether or not it can be commercially viable still remains to be seen," said State Representative Roy Takumi, who is a member of the Transportation Committee.

The first red flag is finances. The two ships cost $180 million dollars, not including all the operating expenses.

"The state had to pony up a lot of money to build a harbor for the Superferry…whether or not that would have been commercially viable, we don't know. They said it would be, but we don't know because it ended before it really got fully operational," Takumi said.

Plus, the Superferry failed largely due to a lack of an environmental impact statement.

"I suspect if the Superferry wants to come back, it's going to have to be prepared to greet the same people that greeted it last time," said Lanny Sinkin, former Superferry opponent who sued the US Coast Guard claiming it was protecting and illegal operation in the Superferry.

Proponents of the Superferry believe with these issues already at surface, it'll be much easier this time around to resolve.

According to our Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now – Hawaii Poll, 87% of voters think Hawaii needs an inter-island system, 11% said no, 2% said they weren't sure.

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