The Maui News

MAUI, Hawaii (Dec. 30) - One of the biggest stories of the year has been the Hawaii Superferry. It has sailed some rough legal seas, through no fault of its own, having done what the state said it had to do.

While caught in a legal crossfire, Superferry officials made a serious public relations blunder when it ran trips to Maui and tried to sail to Kauai with $5 fares – an obvious effort to drum up public support when the matter would be decided in the court.In July 2005, the state won an early legal victory over those challenging the Department of Transportation’s waiver of an environmental assessment for $40 million in ferry-related improvements. Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza ruled Maui environmental groups lacked legal standing to challenge the Superferry’s interisland service. But on Aug. 23 the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed Cardoza, ruling the state was wrong to grant the waiver, and an environmental assessment was required.

It took a special session act of the Legislature to get the ferry under way. It hasn’t been an auspicious start. The rescheduled start was delayed when harbor swells put a landing barge out of service. The ferry has yet to make a run to Kauai, making it look as if protesters on the Garden Isle have more power than they should have.

Two weeks after they began service to Kahului, ferry operators canceled four trips and cited rough seas, something that is all too normal this time of year.

The Hawaii Superferry can be a valuable social and economic link between the islands, but it needs to provide reliable, regular service – summer or winter, rough seas or calm.

The Maui News:

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