Monday, November 12, 2007

TGI SF letters today: "Deeper look by the minority"; and "Ferry economics grim"

Deeper look by the minority

This is one of so many letters on the issues raised by Superferry. Interestingly, I'm not going to make it about Superferry itself, but the prevailing theme and characterization of a "pesky vocal minority" and a "do what's best for the majority" mindset.

A Classic American Movie of the 1950s, "Twelve Angry Men," brilliantly displays the importance of a minority viewpoint. Lone Juror No. 8, Henry Fonda, simply does not go along with 11 other jurors who have rushed to judge a defendant, in many ways for personal biases and laziness of looking deeper. The majority 11 want to go home, go to the ball game, etc.In actually looking deeper and taking the time, the opinions are slowly opened and turned in the presence of the openminded, steadfast juror and we find an innocent defendant acquitted. Whereas, the clear majority had once overwhelmingly favored conviction.

The mostly peaceful, yet determined, Superferry protesters are giving the "11 anxious and angry consumers" a true gift for all of us in asking to truly look deeper, to not go along for personal convenience, or be fooled by slick PR and advertising, into the completely new and speedy form of inter-island transportation. Because once the sentence is made it can't be undone ... unless you're Gov. Linda Lingle ... but that's a different letter.

There is significant value in minority viewpoint, if we can only open to see it, and it takes effort sometimes. Laws and courts are actually meant to protect minority views for the greater good of all. Slowing down Superferry to take that true look under its hood is really warranted.

Please thank the "minority view" for that.

John Cragg



Ferry economics grim

Will the Superferry survive ?

In a word "No," or maybe better said "should not."

Before I get to that I want to clear up a notion by some that the Superferry is greener than a 717-200 (aircraft). The ASM per gallon of fuel (available seat miles flown per gallon of fuel) on an interisland 717-200 is 30 plus. At least 30 passengers get flown one mile for one gallon of fuel. On the Superferry it's around 15, so only 15 passengers get moved one mile for one gallon of fuel. Don't believe me? Do the math.

Arguably diesel is twice as emission harmful (EPA) as jet fuel so the reality is that the Superferry passenger is being four times more damaging to the atmosphere than the Hawaiian Airlines passenger on any given inter-island trip.

As to why the Superferry will not, or should not survive: Simple, HSF won't make any money. Even HSF's own published estimated load factors (HSF Web site) indicate that even if they carry 400 passengers and 110 vehicles on each trip on the "Alakai," they will be losing over $100,000 per week. Two ferries will give them better economy of scale — maybe. I remember traveling on the Boeing inter-island hydrofoil and there were plenty of empty seats. HSF also has major logistics problems, such as vehicle traffic congestion during on/off loading, etc. Also due to all the controversy surrounding the Alakai they have probably lost some of their estimated load factor.

But here is the rub. Why start an operation when your own estimated revenues indicate you will be operating at a loss? This my friends is a very good question. Perhaps the answer lies with Hornblower Marine. They are the people, after all, who are actually operating the Alakai.

Bob Maccallum

Vancouver, British Columbia