Erika Engle

One man, wild
for waterways

It's not every day a person takes out a two-page newspaper ad to float the idea of mass transit via inland waterway ... but April 13 was such a day. The ad in the Star-Bulletin was a satellite photo showing Oahu's South Shore from Kapolei to Waipahu and eastward to Waikiki.

Ferry on

Community and neighborhood board meetings where Tamaye will use time available to the public to present his ideas:

April 25, 7 p.m. Aiea Intergenerational Center
April 27, 7:30 p.m. Waimalu Elementary School Cafeteria
May 3, 7 p.m. Moanalua Middle School, Rm. B1
May 9, 7:30 p.m. Aiea Library
May 12, 7 p.m. Aliamanu Intermediate School Cafeteria
May 18, 7 p.m. Kapalama School Cafeteria
May 23, 7 p.m. Aiea Intergenerational Center

Hawaii businessman Frank Tamaye, 73, wouldn't say how much he paid, but says he's been talking to elected and appointed government officials about his proposal since the 1970s -- and it never saw the light of a legislative session. So the cost of getting his message to the public, spread over time, was worth it to him.

His three-phase proposal would have multipassenger watercraft transport commuters between terminals in Kapolei, Ewa, Waipahu, Pearl City, Halawa, the airport industrial area and Keehi Lagoon to Honolulu Harbor, Aloha Tower, Kakaako, Ala Moana, the Hawaii Convention Center and to the end of Waikiki.

Watercraft are used in inland waterways for commuters "all over the world," Tamaye says. San Francisco and New York are two domestic examples.

Tamaye's proposal would require building a canal to connect Honolulu Harbor to Kewalo Basin and to deepen and widen the Ala Moana Park canal and connect it to the Ala Wai Canal. "You can catch the heart of Waikiki from the back side," he said. Local commuters and visitors would benefit. "When I was young ... there were boats that took couples up and down the Ala Wai," he said.

They would ride and "smooch a little bit, you know?" he smiled. That was back in the 1950s.

A whole lot of concrete and asphalt has been poured and tiered around Oahu since then and Tamaye tires of traffic congestion and visual blight. Because "everybody is talking about alternatives ... I have a strong hunch that the timing is now." Enough concrete already, he says.

Response to his informal presentations at neighborhood meetings has been positive, he said.

He is also encouraged by a Hannemann administration proposal for an Ewa-to-Downtown ferry system, which differs from a state project a few years ago.

"I think the big difference this time around is that we're planning to tie in bus service to the ferry," said Ed Hirata, city transportation services director. Hirata had seen Tamaye's ad and is curious to learn more.

"I'll have my transportation planner call him," Hirata said.

State Transportation Director Rod Haraga is all for alternatives that alleviate traffic congestion. There are some harsh realities, however.

"As with any transit system, it has to be highly subsidized," he said. Questions to be answered include, "how do you subsidize it and to what level, 'cause you're not going to make it at the fare box."

The state Transportation Department would support an alternative means of transportation, "but we do not want to get into the business of running a transit system," Haraga said.

Hirata indicated the city is hoping the state will grant it federal funds for the ferry system proposed for launching in the spring of 2006.

The city can also apply directly to the federal government for ferry funding, Haraga said.

Why would Tamaye go to the trouble and expense?

"I'm trying to pay back the people of Hawaii by saving them money and conserving the beauty of Hawaii," he said.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Business Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com