Debating the Superferry
STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2007
The Hawaii Superferry, shown here making its way toward Pier 19 in Honolulu Harbor, has encountered controversy ever since its aborted start of operation in August.
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Selfish dissidents are preventing the benefits the new service offers
Since the Hawaii Superferry's maiden voyage on Aug. 26, there has been nothing but controversy for the 450-foot ship named the Alakai. From protesters surfing in the water preventing the boat from docking on Kauai to courts placing restraining orders on the ferry, there has been quite a stir about this new way of transportation among the Hawaiian Islands (well, at least three of the islands).
Kamehameha High School
Kanani Gabriel and
Blue and white
The controversy over the ferry has made national news, something that I find embarrassing. The Superferry is one of the best things transportationwise to happen to our state, and the debate over whether it should be allowed is unnecessary.
The Superferry is beneficial to the state of Hawaii. One of the reasons is the convenience this ferry will bring. The Superferry offers passengers the option of bringing along their car, full of their belongings.
The Superferry has the potential to benefit our Kamehameha ohana as well. Athletic teams could use the ferry to travel to sporting events on neighbor islands. Teams could just throw their equipment into a school van or bus, load up on the ferry and travel to another island to compete.
Even boarders might also benefit. They could hop on board and visit their families more often throughout the year. The thought of bringing over the family car for a special weekend also could be entertained.
Not only could the Superferry benefit our Kamehameha ohana, but it could also benefit the rest of Hawaii, residents and tourists alike. Residents could use the ferry to visit their families living on other islands more frequently and conveniently than ever before.
The ferry offers tourists a new way to see the islands from a vantage point that wasn't always available in the past. Passengers on the ferry will spend about four hours on the deep blue sea, viewing the many sights that Hawaii waters offer.
The Superferry opponents don't present any real arguments against the ferry. Protesters argue that the ferry will cause traffic problems on the other islands. Traffic is something that is inevitable; traffic is eventually going to find its way to every place in the state. After all, we do live on islands!
With more and more people moving to Hawaii, traffic is going to occur, with or without the Superferry. The benefits of the ferry will far outweigh the potential traffic problems.
The Superferry could bring growth to Hawaii's economy. With more people traveling throughout the islands, more business will follow. When people travel to places like Kauai, they will spend money; more spending is good for businesses, which eventually leads to a better economy.
Dissidents of the ferry really oppose it for only one reason: They don't want to share their island with people who don't live there. It is just a matter of time before more and more people inhabit their islands.
And the blame is wrongly falling on the Superferry.
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The vessel’s risk as a Trojan Horse for invasive species is too great
The 106-meter-long titan catamaran known as the Hawaii Superferry has definitely made waves in the islands recently. The Alakai can transport approximately 866 passengers and 282 vehicles. But this form of travel will be detrimental to the Hawaiian Islands and hurt the islands rather than help.
One of the routes offered by the Hawaii Superferry is from Honolulu Harbor to Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. On that single trip, the four Kamewa 125 SII water jets will burn 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel. That is 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel being burned daily, building up air pollutants. Many Superferry protesters are largely concerned about the effect this will have on Hawaii's environment.
The Superferry will be able to travel 35 knots in open water, which would be about a four-hour trip from Honolulu to Nawiliwili. Thirty-five knots for such a large vehicle is hazardous to the marine wildlife that call the Kaleiwaho and Kaiwi channels their home.
With no sonar to locate such wildlife as whales and turtles, the Superferry will be voyaging blindly, unforgiving to anything that cannot make its way out of the ferry's path.
There are also many asking what, exactly, is coming over on the Superferry.
Kauai is one of the only islands free of the invasive mongoose that has already ravaged much of the ecosystems in other places. With the Superferry, there will be an increased chance of the mongoose spreading. Hidden in a car or on board, a mongoose could make its way to other islands and harm those environments.
The lives of the endemic nene and other plants and animals could be jeopardized.
Plants also will be vulnerable to invasive species. Miconia has been a serious threat to the islands, harming many native Hawaiian plants, and is considered to be the "brown tree snake of the plant world."
Researchers try hard to eradicate this plant, and launching the Hawaii Superferry will only add to the spreading of this dangerous species, with seeds possibly traveling in stealth underneath a car or even cemented into the mud on a car's tire. We should be protecting this already sensitive land rather than further endangering it.
Each island also faces a dramatic increase in traffic daily. The Superferry encourages passengers to bring along their vehicles. On one trip to Nawiliwili, the Superferry could bring more than 280 cars every day, at the rush hour time of 5:30 p.m.
With an undeveloped highway system compared with Oahu, the two other islands will face an enormous increase in traffic every day.
The Superferry is a big issue to all of Hawaii right now, and although there are many good points to back it up, the downside of the Superferry must be heeded.
There are too many risks to put total faith in this overgrown catamaran.
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COURTESY OF KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS
Senior boarders Thomas Kua, left, Kalee Medeiros, Jaezelle Balilea, Micah Swain and Daniel Spencer-Kennedy are excited about being able to return home more often, thanks to lower airfares.
Interisland airfare wars benefit student boarders
Airline price wars, Superferry blockades, island residents pitted against one another, temporary restraining orders -- interisland transportation has never been so entertaining.
This odd condition of chaos and pandemonium in which the state finds itself has been a boon to Kamehameha Schools' boarders who are taking advantage of the battles that have resulted in lower interisland fares. Boarders can see their families more often, and visitation dates are not limited to those scheduled on the school calendar.
"I think the price drops are wonderful! It allows more family time for our boarders," said Charmain Wong, director of boarding.
According to Kamehameha's Admissions Office, there are close to 500 boarders and their families who can benefit from the low fares from the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai.
Last June, when go! airlines entered the market with a $19 promotional fare, the interisland fares of Aloha and Hawaiian dropped to match their new competition. And it is go! that is keeping interisland travel affordable.
"My mom bought four round-trip tickets." senior boarder Kalena Makanui said. "I don't really go home that much except on common weekends, so it's really nice to be able to go home."
Junior boarder Lance Delos Reyes agreed: "I've been really excited! I get to go home more. I wanted to stay home longer the last time I went. I kind of wish (the cheap prices) would stay around longer so I can continue to go home more."
A more affordable way to travel might have been the Superferry, if it weren't for the temporary restraining order preventing them from doing business until the matter of the environmental impact statement has been resolved by the courts.
"I think I'd like the idea of the Superferry," Makanui said. "I really like it when my mom comes over, and with the Superferry she wouldn't have to pay for a rental car. And I think that if she didn't have to spend money on a car, she'd come to visit me more often."
Alamo, Hertz and National, three leading car rental agencies in the state, advertise weekly car rentals between $200 and $400. Bringing a car interisland on the Superferry could be done at a comparable cost, but parents or students can bring more belongings on the boat.
Those who would benefit the most from the Superferry would be students from Kauai, who, with 186 students, make up the largest contingent in Kamehameha's boarding program, according to the Admissions Office.
The low rates and expanded travel options have touched many families. Travel has become more accessible for the majority.
The price drops "give parents the opportunity to see their son or daughter participating in athletic games, plays, concerts and other school activities," Wong said.
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"What is the most embarrassing song on your iPod?"
"An embarrassing song I have is 'As Long as You Love Me,' by the Backstreet Boys."
"'Canine Krunchies,' because it's from a show on Disney that has Dalmatians."
"'Bye Bye Bye,' by *N Sync, because I dance to it in front of my mirror."
"'Cinderella,' by the Cheetah Girls, because it's from a little kids' movie."