Superferry Delivers Controversy On Maui

Lance Holter
Lance Holter
Dick Mayer
Dick Mayer

KAHULUI, Maui (KHNL) - Superferry officials are working to address all of the concerns, so it's smooth sailing for everyone.

Neighbor island residents who support the Superferry say it'll make interisland travel a lot easier.

"Basically because it's very convenient for the Neighbor Islands to come to Oahu to bring their cars onto the ferry, that way we don't have to rent a car," said Hew Zane, Maui resident.

The Maui Chamber of Commerce is also backing this vessel. And those with the Superferry are working to gain more support. For example, they're working with paddlers to ensure this ship doesn't interfere with practices and regatta.

"The fact is the majority of the people on the neighbor islands do support the Superferry," said Gov. Linda Lingle.

Gov. Lingle says people who are against the ferry have valid concerns that the state is helping iron out.

"You won't be able to bring any material onto the Superferry without a certificate from the State Dept. of Agriculture. There is no other vessel traveling between the islands, with that kind of requirement," said Lingle.

The governor says the Superferry will give residents more traveling options. Others agree.

"I think it would be a good idea to have this Superferry," said one Neighbor Island resident.

"Yah I think I'll try it out," said a Maui resident.

The Hawaii Superferry will begin cruising around local waters next July.

For years, Karen Chun and her paddling crew have called Kahului Harbor, home. Their practices and races are held in and around the harbor, and she says doing them anywhere else is just plain physically impossible.

"And we have been asking them to give us an exemption to the security zone which is going to be about 300 feet around the Superferry because the security zone overlaps our race course," said Chun.

Chun is one of many people asking that an environmental impact statement be done. And she's not the only one.

The Sierra Club on Maui wants an EIS because they believe with it, the island better prepare for the Superferry's arrival. They also want to see how the environment would possibly be affected.

"We see the possibility of ice and methamphetamine being brought over to the island from Oahu, we see invasive species coming in from Oahu and the Big Island, for example, fire ants," said Lance Holter with the Sierra Club.

Holter says there will be a large influx of people coming into compete with Maui's limited resources.

"We'll have conflicts with fishing areas, camping areas, hunting areas," he said.

Superferry officials say they've changed the arrival times on neighbor island ports, so the ship won't be docking during heavy traffic times. Still, at least one Maui resident says the schedules and fare are inconvenient for travelers.

"For example babies, under the age of 2, have to pay to get a ticket. On a plane they'd be going free, also there's something called a fuel adjustment if the price of oil goes up and we know it's gone up very dramatically, the price of the ticket goes up," said Dick Mayer, retired economics professor.

Although Superferry supporters like the idea of being able to bring their cars with them, Mayer says, it will eat up too much time.

"Now you'll have to go down, bring your car down, the car will have to go through a security check, agriculture inspection. It'll take at least a minimum of three hours," said Mayer.

He also believes the Superferry will be bad for the economy. He says there are several interisland carriers right now and adding another competitor may again lead some into bankruptcy.

Mayer says the Superferry may be a good way to travel for tourists, but not for residents.