Monday, May 7, 2001

ferry makes
its 1st run

The round-trip fare is
$15 for Molokai folks;
trip takes 75 minutes

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent

LAHAINA, Maui >> A ferry service that may help ease unemployment on Molokai finished its first regularly scheduled crossing to Lahaina today, with three passengers -- all visitors.

Still, Molokai Princess official David Jung said he wasn't disappointed with the lack of passengers, because the ship hadn't promoted the ferry extensively and planned a "soft opening" to ease into the schedule.

"As soon as people know we're running, the numbers are going to go up quickly," he predicted, noting that some people on Molokai bought travel coupons yesterday.

Visitors aboard the 100-foot yacht this morning made the 23-mile crossing in about an hour and 25 minutes, about 10 minutes longer than originally scheduled.

The crew was running the 149-passenger ship at a slower than usual speed to break in the new engine, Jung said.

California resident Eric Greufe, the first passenger off the Molokai Princess, said the crossing was smooth, except for a slight bump in the channel. 'It was great," he said.

Greufe and his wife, Sally, decided to visit Molokai after finding out about the new ferry service operating between Kaunakakai and Lahaina. They planned to visit friends in Lahaina during the day, before returning to Molokai.

Greufe said he was enjoying his visit to Molokai, which he described as "quiet and peaceful."

Molokai residents, facing the highest unemployment rate in the state -- 15.4 percent in February --- hope the ferry will bring more visitors like Greufe to the island and provide more job opportunities. At least 100 Molokai residents have indicated they were willing to commute and work on Maui if the travel is feasible, according to state labor officials.

But residents also remember the shutdown of a previous ferry in 1996, when Gov. Ben Cayetano terminated a state subsidy of $300,000.

Jung plans to operate the ferry without government subsidy. But he said he'll need about 100 residents traveling from Molokai to Maui each day to maintain the commuter rates.

The company is charging $15 round trip to Molokai commuters who are full-time employees working on Maui and $40 for other adults, one way. Children are charged $20 one way.

The Molokai Princess will depart Kaunakakai at 6 a.m. and arrive at Lahaina Harbor at 7:15 a.m., Monday through Saturday. The return trip would leave at 5:15 p.m. and arrive at 6:30 p.m.

On Sunday, the ferry is scheduled to depart Lahaina Harbor at 7:30 a.m. and arrive on Molokai at 8:45 a.m. The return voyage departs Molokai at 3:30 p.m. and arrives in Lahaina at 4:45 p.m.

The yacht, which includes two air-conditioned cabins and an open-air observation deck, conducts commercial cruises during the middle of the day.

The Molokai Princess was scheduled to begin service in mid-March, but its opening date was pushed back because of foul weather, which delayedthe refitting of the vessel on the mainland, and an engine breakdown last month during speed trials in Hawaii.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin