-- Sailing on SUNDAY
-- Charging only $5 per passenger,
on all trips from August 26 to Sept 5
Friday, August 24, 2007 2:26 PM HST
Superferry plans a Sunday launch
A $5 one-way fare is being offered for the inaugural service
Associated Press Star-Bulletin Staff | firstname.lastname@example.org
The operators of the Hawaii Superferry say they will start service Sunday,
two days earlier than planned, despite a state Supreme Court ruling
yesterday that they must do an environmental assessment.
John Garibaldi, president and CEO of the Superferry, announced this
afternoon that they are offering inaugural service from Sunday thru Sept. 5
for $5 a passenger one-way, and $5 a vehicle, from Oahu to Maui and Oahu to
Yesterday, the five-member Supreme Court unanimously ruled the Superferry
should have been required to do an environmental assessment before starting
Superferry opponents say they will file for an injunction Monday. They
contend the assessment must be completed before the Superferry can operate.
Earlier today. the state Department of Transportation Director Barry
Fukunaga said an environmental assessment will be conducted as ordered by
the state Supreme Court, but the Superferry will be allowed to use Kahului
Harbor on Maui.
"We have no intention to denying them access at this point, because the
court did not specifically specify that they could not commence operations,"
he said. "Until that is identified, we certainly wouldn't be doing any
action against them."
Fukunaga said the assessment will determine if a more comprehensive
environmental impact statement is needed. "It's purely speculation at this
point to determine if an EIS is warranted," he said.
The Superferry had been scheduled to begin daily interisland service from
Oahu to Maui and Kauai on Tuesday.
State law prohibits the ferry from entering into service at island harbors
during a formal environmental study of its potential to create traffic jams,
collide with humpback whales or spread invasive species, said Isaac Hall, an
attorney for the groups that sued the Superferry - the Sierra Club, Maui
Tomorrow and the Kahului Harbor Coalition.
Environmentalists have threatened to go back to court to file for a
preliminary injuction that would stop the Superferry from starting service
until after the environmental assessment is done.
Fukunaga said the state believes it is interpreting and following the law
Garibaldi would not speculate on any potential court action and said he was
confident that the ferry will be able to provide service.
Meanwhile, passengers who already booked voyages at a previous higher fare
will be refunded and offered the inaugural rate. Regular fares after that
will be more than $60 with taxes and fees.
Trips can be booked at 877-443-3779 or online at HawaiiSuperferry.com.
The flashy blue and white catamaran, painted with a giant manta ray logo,
has already been tested at sea and toured by more than 16,000 people. A
second ferry being built in Mobile, Ala., is scheduled to serve the Big
Island starting in 2009.
The first 340-foot-long ferry can carry up to 866 passengers and more than
100 vehicles. Together, the two ferries cost $190 million.
Fukunaga praised Superferry officials for conducting their own voluntary
review and said they have taken precautions to protect the environment.
The ferry planned to hire lookouts to watch for whales, alter its routes and
slow down during peak whale season. Its employees would inspect vehicles for
invasive species and prohibit mud-caked cars from making the voyage.
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