Monday, August 27, 2007

Ferry Well

There's a new "Superferry" serving the Hawaiian Islands. This story says it's the first-ever such service in Hawaii. I do seem to remember a failed ferry service back in the early 70s', consisting of hydrofoil boats. Am I mistaken or does anybody else remember?

Anyway, local environmentalists have sought an injunction against the service claiming there was no environmental impact study done and that the impacts of the service could be significant. The state supreme court agreed. Surfers off Kauai prevented the ferry from docking for an hour on it's second voyage.

The company that operates the ferry (Hawaii Superferry Inc.) ran maiden voyages despite the supreme court ruling, as nothing stipulated they hault service. Meanwhile they are arguing that cruise ships have long used these same waters without having to submit to this scrutiny.

As an ex-native, I fully appreciate the value of alternate inter-island commute vehicles. One of the toughest things about living in Hawaii is the inability to leave - even to go next door to a neighboring island - inexpensively. Based on the prices for the ferry service ($240 plus for passenger and car), the status quo will remain, at least with regard to price. It may be that passenger service alone will be more reasonably priced.

I've taken ferries in the Pacific Northwest. I never spent that kind of money - and those trips did include our car. I've seen whales breach (is that the right word - when whales clear the surface?) in front of the ferry. I never considered at the time that perhaps they were endangered by the ferry itself. You think so? Could be.

I like ferry commutes. They are much more comfortable than airplanes, and usually much less expensive. I sympathize with the environmentalists in Hawaii as well as with their supreme court though. As our planet gets smaller and more fragile in the face of the viral presence of humans, we need to continue to examine and question the means and methods we employ for our civilization's welfare.

Still I guess I secretly hope the ferry service gets a pass.

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