HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Bringing back a ferry system, like the Hawaii Superferry, would not be feasible, according to a new report conducted by the state Department of Transportation.
In 2016, the state Legislature tasked the DOT with conducting a study on the feasibility of an inter-island ferry of some form.
The study, completed in December 2017, looked at the technical, commercial and financial feasibility of several forms of a ferry system: an inter-island ferry, an intra-county ferry between Maui and Molokai, an intra-island ferry system between West Oahu and Honolulu, and an intra-island ferry system between West Maui and Central Maui.
The report found that exploring those services would not make sense for various reasons, with the primary reason being the high cost of building new pier facilities to accommodate a ferry system. From a commercial standpoint, it concluded that none of the ferries would be self-sustainable and that the state would have to pour in taxpayer dollars to support it and keep it running.
Although there's high interest in reviving a ferry system, researchers did not believe Hawaii residents would make use of one. They looked back at the Superferry, which carried 250,000 passengers during its time in operation, but noted that average ridership was well below its break-even passenger count.
Officials said that until a ferry can transport passengers from one point to another faster and at a significantly lower cost, a ferry system will not be successful.
The report suggests several options for further exploration, though. One would be a public-private partnership and a more detailed review of the Maui-Molokai intra-county system. It said the Maui-Molokai system may not be feasible, but there may be a need for one.
The Superferry launched in 2007, but was forced to stop operations in March 2009 after a state Supreme Court decision ruled unconstitutional a law that allowed it to operate without a required full environmental study. It was seen as an alternative to air travel and remained a hot topic for years after its demise.