By Gladys Brown
AARP is scheduling a Driving Safety class at the Mitchell Pauole Center conference room on Saturday, Oct. 22 beginning at 8 a.m. The class will be taught by Peggy Haake of the AARP Maui Chapter. She has been teaching this class as a volunteer for the past five years. This four-hour meeting will consist of valuable traffic information for all drivers. If you have Hartford Auto Insurance from AARP you will pay $12 for the class fee. The completion certificate will entitle you to a discount on your insurance for three years. If you have other insurance you may call them for information on their discounts. Non-members who are interested will pay $14.
No need to go any faster, according to Max, who plans to use the Model A as his primary mode of transportation. Driving around Kaunakakai last week, the car was already building up a buzz.
“I call it the smile machine,” Max said, “because what it does is it brings back memories. People tell you stories like you wouldn’t believe.”
In addition to smiles, the car – named Emily – also brings the couple savings. Equipped with an original four-cylinder Ford engine, the Model A takes regular gas and can achieve up to 48 miles per gallon.
Part of the savings is in the slowness, Max said. Staying below 45 mph means the engine isn’t working too hard, he said, thus saving gas in any car. With the Model A, that’s the only option.
The couple sought the car to replace one Joyce had years ago in California – “I’ve always just ached to have it again,” she said – and named this Model A after her old one. The car was popular with doctors back in its hey-day, and is “just your basic car,” Max said – a stripped-down version of today’s vehicles. It has only six volts of electricity, unlike the 12 volts in most modern cars. Almost everything requires manual action in the Model A; even turning it on is a multi-step process that might confuse most drivers.
The seller wanted to make sure the new owners wouldn’t turn it into a hot rod, Max said, and he and Joyce have no such plans. They like the car the way it is, with its original black steel body, rumble seat in the back, and cable brakes – no hydraulics here.
Their only plans right now are to replace its current 16-inch wheels with 19- to 21-inch wheels, which were the standard in 1930, and to enjoy themselves cruising around Molokai. They’re even interested in helping other locals import antique cars from the mainland, Joyce said.
“There’s no computers, no air conditioning, no heater,” Max said, looking at the car. He smiled, adding, “It’s pretty cool.”
The cost of living on the islands continues to rise as Young Brothers, Ltd. (YB) seeks to increase their shipping rates. During a visit to Molokai last week, YB’s Vice President of Strategic Planning and Government Affairs Roy Catalani explained that dropping volumes of cargo are forcing the company to apply to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a rate increase of about 24 percent. Their last rate increase was in August 2009.
Along with lower cargo volume, a second shipping company, Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines, has entered the Hawaii market. They are “cherry-picking” service to larger harbors but not serving smaller ports like Molokai, according to Catalani. Pasha began service in February; their presence could also affect YB’s rising costs of operations.
Those who travel by car or truck aren’t the only victims of the high gas prices – skyrocketing oil rates have forced Sea Link Hawaii, who runs the Molokai Princess between Maui and Molokai, to raise their ferry fares yet again.
The increased fuel surcharge brings up a one-way adult fare to $63.60, from $59.36, effective May 1. They last increased their rates effective in January 2011.
“Our base prices remain the same,” said Dave Jung, general manager of Sea Link. “We hate to do it, that’s just how it has to be – if fuel goes up, makes it harder and harder for people to travel.”