Give TheBoat time to build reliability
The City Council is considering whether to continue TheBoat service for commuters for a second year.
Early problems with TheBoat's commuter voyages between Barbers Point Harbor and Aloha Tower crippled its draw but the city says the operation has rebounded. The fledgling service should continue, along with marketing campaigns to coax more people to take the ride.
TheBoat -- actually two boats -- began service last September, drawing about 300 riders a day, said city Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka. One of the boats had mechanical problems in November and December, causing ridership to drop to not many more than 100.
Yoshioka told the City Council last week that ridership has increased to about 300. That level is far better than previous commuter ferries that took the same route. The city's goal is to reach 400 to 500 riders a day, but reliability will be necessary to achieve those numbers. That level of ridership would be cost-effective compared with the city's express bus service, said Yoshioka.
Previous ferry attempts failed to recognize commuter's needs, neglecting to provide connecting bus service. TheBoat includes bus links from the Waianae Coast and the outer reaches of Kapolei and Makakilo to Barbers Point Harbor, plus links from Aloha Tower to various areas, including Waikiki and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The city received a $5 million federal grant to begin TheBoat service and extending the service through a second year would cost $4 million. The city expects to apply for more federal money and to add a stop at Iroquois Point in Ewa Beach.
Several City Council members expressed skepticism last week about approving expenditures to continue TheBoat service. However, Council Budget Chairman Todd Apo was right in saying TheBoat should be allowed time to recover from the early operation problems and build a reputation of reliability that is important to commuters.
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