City must solicit commuter feedback about TheBoat
The city has inaugurated an attempt at establishing ferry service between Kapolei and downtown.
ROCKY seas jarred TheBoat on its inaugural voyages for commuters yesterday
from Kalaeloa to Aloha Tower. Rougher and slower than past attempts at connecting downtown and Kapolei by ferry, TheBoat still gives the city reason to be optimistic if it aggressively solicits opinions from commuters about how to improve the service.
Past attempts at providing ferry service from the Second City have sunk because of the failure to recognize commuters' needs and desires. Bus service to Barbers Point Harbor was not provided, which meant that commuters living in Kapolei had to drive several miles in one direction to board a ferry heading the opposite way, something they were reluctant to do. The new ferry system contains bus links from and to the Waianae Coast and the outer reaches of Kapolei and Makakilo.
The ferry won't get commuters to their jobs any sooner, even at peak rush hour. Three Star-Bulletin staffers left Makakilo simultaneously at 5 a.m. yesterday and recorded their times to arrive downtown: commuting by TheBoat took one hour and 43 minutes, by car took 28 minutes and by express bus, 37 minutes. The key to TheBoat's success is that one hour is spent on the ferry boat and can be put to use by the commuter. As the rush hour reaches its peak, TheBoat will remain slowest but not by as much.
Several of yesterday morning's 100 ferry commuters became queasy because of the bumpy sea, aggravated by the ferry's broken air-conditioning system. However, several college students were able to cling to their table booths and prepare for their classes.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said Internet access will be provided without charge aboard TheBoat beginning about Oct. 1. That is a critical need for the ferry's success; the remaining question is how many commuters will have stomachs strong enough to perform work on the computer during the morning trip downtown, the direction at which waves are most robust. Commuters should keep in mind that seasickness can be alleviated by looking out the window at a fixed point (land or the horizon).
Another important factor is the low cost. A monthly pass on TheBus, at $40, includes use of TheBoat, so commuting by bus and ferry allows a commuter to avoid high gasoline prices and parking fees.
At this point the city cannot bask in its success and wait for the ferry system to succeed. It is paramount that the city actively survey not only ferry commuters on how the service can be improved, but other Leeward and Kapolei residents on why they have yet to opt for TheBoat.
This might result in changing the schedule to help ferry commuters arrive at work on time. The schedule for the ferry to arrive at Aloha Tower at 6:30, 7 and 9 a.m. was based on downtown arrival times preferred by bus users. Express buses from the Leeward Coast stop on King Street through the heart of downtown to Ala Moana Center.
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