FEASIBILITY STUDY ON INTER-ISLAND AND INTRA-ISLAND FERRY SYSTEMS
Report to the Hawaii State Legislature from HDoT, December 28, 2017
The Department of Transportation presents this ferry feasibility study in response to two legislative actions in 2016 and 2017 that queried whether the State of Hawaii ought to establish an inter-island and/or intra-island ferry system. This study is the result of a year of research into the operations of past ferry operations here in Hawaii and existing ferry systems in other parts of the United States, a market study built on the voices of 1,500 Hawaii residents, and a sequence of analyses that broadly considered the critical components of a ferry system. Apart from the contract to SMS Hawaii to conduct the market study, this report is the product of Department of Transportation staff.
This study is organized into three areas: technical feasibility, commercial feasibility, and financial feasibility.
• The technical feasibility analysis describes the service to be offered and considers route feasibility based on use of hypothetical vessels and a survey of existing port infrastructure. Regulatory requirements, including compliance with State and federal environmental laws, are also part of this section.
• The commercial feasibility analysis focuses on the probability of commercial success and this section of the study features an analysis of the market study findings, how the market is expected to respond to a ferry system, and whether there is sufficient interest or need for the service to justify further action.
• The financial feasibility analysis considers all projected costs, revenues, and funding and financing options, and concludes whether resources are or will be reliably available to support a ferry service.
A prospective ferry system must be technically, commercially, and financially sound to be considered “feasible” and to urge the State of Hawaii to proceed with next steps in the establishment of a ferry system.
The study team tested the feasibility of an inter-island system between Honolulu and five neighbor island destination; an intra-county system between Maui and Molokai to restore the service absent since Sea Link ceased its operations in 2016; an intra-island commuter system on Oahu between Kalaeloa and Honolulu, similar to two previously operated demonstration projects; and an intra-island commuter system on Maui between Lahaina and Central Maui, either Maalaea or Kahului.
In each area of analysis, the inter-island, intra-county, and intra-island ferry systems are infeasible. From a technical standpoint, the lack of available pier space and the significant costs required of constructing new pier facilities to accommodate a ferry system are the primary barrier to feasibility. From a commercial perspective, the expectations of Hawaii’s residents and the reality of a ferry system are incompatible. While the interest or support for a ferry system, inter-island or other, is significant, the pool of likely users is relatively insignificant. Financially, none of the proposed ferry systems is self-sustaining, and a State subsidy is largely the missing factor in making the numbers pencil.
Hawaii State law declares that the establishment of a ferry system to provide the people of Hawaii with an economic means of transportation is a public purpose. Alongside this declaration is the core message received through the market study: Hawaii residents strongly support an inter-island travel alternative. However, at this very point in time inter-island travel by ferry, and even commuting by ferry, cannot be provided at cost that would be considered economical. The public purpose cannot be met.
Until a ferry vessel technology exists that facilitates the transport of passengers between two points for a substantially lower cost, or at a speed drastically quicker than the available alternatives, even despite the voiced support for a ferry, the market demand for and likelihood of residents to use a ferry will probably not change.
read … Full Report
HTH: Study: Ferry Not Feasible
HNN: Report: Bringing back ferry system, like Superferry, would not be feasible