Fixed Guideways And Superferries

Larry Price
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Wednesday - January 03, 2007
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As it moves into the past, 2006 will probably be remembered for the pseudo excitement generated by the thought of a “fixed guideway” for parts of the Island of Oahu.

The excitement comes from the uncertainty of the venture, but there aren’t really a whole lot of facts to get excited about.

We are told to not worry

because Oahu’s leaders have demonstrated that they have the political will to make the new transportation system become a reality.

Never mind that no one knows the exact route it will take, and whether or not it will be a rail system or some other fixed-guideway system.

People on the City Council did a marvelous job of handling the staggering number of concerns expressed by citizens.

But just as the locals were feeling a little more secure about the 7-2 council vote in favor of the largest public works project in Hawaii’s history, the City Council announced it has plans to reorganize, which basically means new leadership.

Doesn’t new leadership mean all previous bets are canceled?

The way things are going, 2007 is going to be an exciting political year for Honolulu. It’s hard to get comfortable with the idea that a multibillion-dollar “fixed guideway” will survive all the environmental challenges, lawsuits over condemnation procedures involved in the construction, the funding by the federal government, collecting and protecting the excise tax year after year until the last spike is driven.

Hopefully, when it happens the spike won’t be driven into the hearts of the taxpayers and frustrated Leeward motorists.

Amid all this transportation uncertainty, lost in clouds of doubt caused by unanswered questions, there is a bright transportation alternative for 2007 that is more certain.

I’m talking about the Hawaii Superferry. After all the challenges, the word is the first ferry will start service in July 2007 with daily round trips between Oahu and Maui, and Oahu and Kauai.

When the second boat is delivered, there will be two round trips per day between Oahu and Maui; one round trip per day between Oahu and Kauai, and one round trip per day between Oahu and the Island of Hawaii.

Isn’t it refreshing to know how many trips a day a new transportation system will be providing and where it will be going?

Furthermore, they know how long the crossings will take: three hours each way between Oahu and Maui, and Oahu and Kauai. It will take slightly more than four hours between Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Unlike the “fixed guideway,” the Superferry organization is ready to advertise how much it will cost to ride.

The preliminary prices, as filed with PUC, start at $42 each way to or from Maui and Kauai for weekday travel booked in advance. Check out the website (

The fare to the Big Island is $52.

You can even click the web-site for more fare information if you want to know how much it will cost to bring your car, surfboard or even a canoe.

Let’s face it, that’s competent planning.

Hopefully, all these types of answers will be forthcoming for our budding “fixed guideway” system once they can figure where it’s going to start and end. It’s almost scary to imagine how much it’s going to cost to ride our rail line.

There’s also the question of who’s going to operate the system. Is it going to be run by unionized employees?

And how are potential riders going to reach the rail stations? Will parking at the stations be provided on a park-and-ride basis?

There’s little question it’s going to be an exciting transportation year for Oahu. I’m planning on using the Superferry to visit family members on the Neighbor Islands.

I’m not a pessimistic kind of person, but I’m not making any plans to ride the “fixed guide-way” system in the near future.

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