Last Scheduled Superferry Trip Departs Under Cloudy Kahului Skies
By Wendy Osher
A small group of people gathered at Kahului Harbor today to witness the last scheduled voyage of the Hawaii Superferry from Maui to Honolulu. The vessel departed at 11:15 a.m. on schedule, under a cloudy sky and quiet atmosphere.
That’s in contrast to the loud demonstrations that greeted the vessel on its inaugural run to Maui and the human and surfer blockade that prevented the boat from docking at Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai a year and a half ago.
The company is suspending operations following a State Supreme Court ruling that said a special law that allowed the company to operate while conducting an EIS, was unconstitutional.
Maui resident Pete Gapero was among those who were sad to see the vessel depart saying, “I hope this is not the last time we see the vessel.”
“I think it’s a sad day for the people of Hawaii because a lot of people use the Superferry to visit other islands, to visit their relatives and friends,” said Gapero.
Gapero was among those who said the vessel offered residents an alternative mode of transportation between the islands and the opportunity to take their own vehicles instead of spending additional money on a rental.
The Superferry will begin laying off 236 workers tomorrow. Pukalani Resident Dorothy “Dot” Buck who has been a vocal opponent of the operation told us today that while she has compassion for those affected by job losses, she was satisfied with the recent court ruling.
“I’m glad that they finally made a ruling on it. I’m happy for all of the people who protested against it because they didn’t feel that it was right the way it was done–being shoved down people’s throats and I’m glad that it’s leaving,” said Buck.
“I’m sorry for the people who lost their jobs; I’m sorry for the people who are using it commercially, but at the same time they just seem like “arrogant, incompetent and greedy,” said Buck.
The company released a statement this morning, saying that with no short-term solution in sight, it will have to find other employment for the vessel.
Ramifications of the State Supreme Court ruling include uncertainty over the $40 million the company was required to repay the state for harbor improvements. There has also been questions raised over the impact the ruling will have on the power of lawmakers and the bills that they pass.
(Story and Photos by Wendy OSHER © 2009)