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Changing Times for the Molokai Ferry

Community Contributed

By Dave Jung, Molokai Ferry General Manager

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Photo by Catherine Cluett

The Molokai Ferry has been running a fixed schedule for the last 27 years, operated by Sea Link of Hawaii. However, last year, airline travel from Molokai dramatically changed, and single engine aircraft are very fuel efficient and cheap to operate. With air fares down to $39, the ferry just can’t compete in this current price war.

A new ruling by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) allows the ferry to change our schedule on a monthly basis and may cancel a voyage when the number of reservations is below 20 passengers on either segment of a round trip 48 hours before departure. Please make a reservation ahead of time when you plan to travel. We do not want to cancel any trips, but if we have to, travelers will be refunded for any cancelled trips. All reservations must have a valid contact phone number or email address as a means to contact a passenger in the event of a 48 hour cancellation.

The real win for the ferry and for Molokai is that we are allowed to adjust trips on a monthly basis to meet passenger demand. It only makes sense to operate when people want to travel.

In 1987, Governor Waihee asked Sea Link of Hawaii to operate between Molokai and Maui. He provided a subsidy during his term in office with the requirement that Molokai residents working full time on Maui received dramatically reduced fares — $10 round trip at that time. In 1995, Governor Cayetano suspended the program. Sea Link funded the program on its own and has been providing the reduced commuter fare with no state subsidy.

Sea Link wants to continue to provide service to Molokai. Who knows how long the airfare price war will continue. Where is Go Airlines and their $39 airfare today?

Sea Link also thinks our state or county should support Molokai with a ferry subsidy. An isolated community should have service to the rest of the state. A transit arrangement similar to the Maui or Oahu bus system should be funded for a ferry operation servicing Molokai. If there ever was an area that needs economic and job support, it is Molokai.

For September 2015, we are planning four round trips per week originating on Maui. The September schedule will be Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, departing Lahaina in the morning at 6 a.m. and arriving on Molokai between 7:45 and 8 a.m. and in the evening, departing Molokai at 5 p.m. and arriving in Lahaina between 6:45 and 7 p.m. Check the newspaper or our website (molokaiferry.com) for times of operation.

Mahalo to the residents of Molokai. Your support of the ferry has been crucial. If you didn’t support it during these tough times it would be gone.

Also, a big mahalo to Maui Council Members Stacy Crivello and Mike White, Mayor Alan Arakawa, and especially Jo Anne Johnson Winer, Department of Transportation. On the State side Senator Roz Baker and Angus McKelvey have been just wonderful.

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