Superferry could save the day
What is all this fuss about the Superferry? To hear some Maui legislators talk, you would think its first passengers are going to be the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
When I first heard of and wrote about the project nearly two years ago, I was completely sold on the concept. After all, if implemented as planned, traveling around our state would finally be nearly as easy as it is in the other 49.
And, there would be at least one major plus. For about three hours aboard this 350-foot vessel, travelers would be able to enjoy the magnificent seascapes of Hawaii that cruise ship passengers pay thousands of dollars to see.
Another factor I hadn't considered until last October's earthquake is how the Superferry's capabilities could be an asset to our state in times of large-scale emergencies.
If our counties adopted a system similar to the mutual aid agreements used by most mainland communities, emergency responders and their equipment -- from fire engines to bulldozers -- would be able to move from island to island within hours.
Such resource mobility would give emergency planners statewide a whole new set of tools to work with, as well as new strategies and tactics to develop and use.
For the rest of us though, for the first time in Hawaii's history, a family in Kaneohe or Kapolei would be able to hook their boat trailer up to their SUV and drive over to Maui, Kauai, or eventually the Big Island, for a week's vacation.
And, of course, folks on the neighbor islands would benefit as well. For instance, a family in Hana or Hanalei would be able to jump into their car and head to Honolulu to do some serious shopping, and never need to worry about how to ship everything home.
Plus, think how it would simplify the logistics for statewide team sports or canoe regattas. The participants would be able to board school buses or vehicles towing six-man canoe trailers and travel together.
The cost as well as the speed of these interisland trips appears to be quite reasonable as well, according to the Superferry rate schedules posted on its Web site.
For example, my wife and I can load up our Jeep Liberty, strap a one-man outrigger on top, and only pay $139, one way, Tuesdays through Thursdays, from Honolulu to Kahului. And Fridays through Mondays, it will only be $30 more.
I would think the only ones who may be somewhat uncomfortable with the Superferry's fare scale and services are the competition: airlines, tug-and-barge services, and perhaps, car rental agencies.
However, that possibility shouldn't give lawmakers cause for putting up last minute roadblocks, like an environmental impact study, for its implementation, should it?
After all, airlines fly thousands of passengers into and around our islands, tug-and-barge operators transfer tons of vehicles, goods and equipment, and car rental agencies import and rent thousands of vehicles here everyday, all without an EIS.