HONOLULU — A study looking at the viability of a state-owned ferry system will be presented to the state Legislature this month, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Lawmakers commissioned the $50,000 study last session.
The purpose is to take a look at other publicly owned fleets, such as in Washington state, and how that could work here.
That would be different from the Superferry, a private venture that sailed from 2007-09. It shut down after a judge ruled it unconstitutional without a full environmental review.
The Superferry also lost a standoff in Kauai 10 years ago that helped lead to its demise.
DOT contracted with SMS Research to conduct a “market analysis to determine demand for and price sensitivity related to an intra-island, intra-county and inter-island ferry service,” agency spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said in an email.
Additionally, the study looks at infrastructure requirements, environmental law compliance, operating costs and financing options, she said. Recommendations will be included.
State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who was a co-sponsor of the legislation that funded the study, said it remains to be seen if additional research will be needed.
Inouye, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, also will be looking at who was consulted on the Neighbor Islands.
“I’d like to see who they’ve talked to, what type of information they have already compiled,” said Inouye, D-Hilo, Hamakua, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona.
Hundreds of community activists and environmentalists arrived at Kauai’s Nawiliwili Harbor to protest the ferry’s maiden voyage from Honolulu on Aug. 26, 2007, blocking the delivery of nearly 500 passengers and sending them back to Oahu.
The incident received national attention and confirmed Kauai’s reputation as being fiercely independent and determined to protect its resources.
When the Superferry arrived at Nawiliwili again the next day, twice as many protesters lined the pier and nearly a hundred activists entered the water on surfboards and canoes to create a blockade that prevented the boat from docking after several hours.
The Superferry didn’t try to return.
Some, however, believe a ferry system would create interisland travel options and drive down the cost of air travel.
“We need competition and we don’t have it,” Ray Domingo of Hanamaulu wrote in a letter to The Garden Island.