Friday, November 2, 2007

From the legislative workaround department:

Hawaii's Superferry may finally be just about ready to begin regular operations. Just as the first vessel was to enter service last month, the line ran up against a legal obstacle, that if not dealt with, would have forced the line to move elsewhere in order to try to avoid bankruptcy.

Superferry had a well-laid out plan, years in the making (with millions of dollars invested), and they thought they had complied with all the rules to enter service in Hawaii. Many people in Hawaii want the service, which would be the first regularly-scheduled ferry service between the islands. There are also many who oppose it on environmental grounds and just general principles. Just days before the service was to start, the latter faction succeeded in getting an injunction to stop the service until a complete environmental study could be completed, which could take months or years. During the first scheduled trial runs, there were also those who physically blocked the ferry from the harbor at Kauai.

Both houses of Hawaii's legislature have now passed legislation which will allow the Superferry to operate while the environmental study is being completed, and allows the governor (who is a supporter of the service) to impose rules on the line by executive order to safeguard the environment during the time the study is ongoing. She is expected to sign the legislation next week.

It again appears the Superferry is about to enter service, but they (and the Coast Guard) will still have to deal with the people who want to physically block the vessel.

Friday's article in the Honolulu Advertiser explains the legislative workaround. More information on the service itself is available on the Superferry website.

Update Nov 03: There is also an interesting article in the Honolulu Star Bulletin which gives some additional perspective.