City optimistic about commuter ferry
The city's ferry ran less than one-third full during its first week of service, but the numbers are still good, a city official said Friday.
"One-third, that's pretty good," said Melvin Kaku, Transportation Services director. "Like any new initiative we believe the start will be relatively slow, but the numbers seem to indicate that there's a fairly good interest."
Kaku said he anticipates ridership on TheBoat to increase this week because fares are free starting tomorrow through Friday.
Kaku said a second 149-passenger vessel, Rachel Marie, should receive its Coast Guard certification and begin operating tomorrow. The Rachel Marie will add another four trips to last week's schedule.
Darin Mar, project manager for the ferry project, said he is more concerned with enhancing service to attract riders rather than actual ridership numbers.
He is using onboard surveys and feedback from the Web site to make improvements. "That's what will increase the ridership," he said.
Ridership numbers came in at 290 on Monday, 233 on Tuesday, 273 on Wednesday and 250 on Thursday. There were 96 riders Friday on two trips. TheBoat was more popular in the afternoon with about 200 more passengers than in the morning.
Using only one ferry, TheBoat can carry 149 passengers. It made four round trips a day, amounting to 1,192 seats Monday through Thursday. The average ridership for that period was actually 22 percent, or closer to one-fifth full. Part of the decrease in ridership was because there were no riders on the 3:05 p.m. departure from Kalaeloa to Aloha Tower. Mar said that departure probably was too early for commuters.
The city created TheBoat as a pilot project offering a transportation alternative for one year. Officials hope to continue the project if it is deemed a success.