The Molokai ferry is a lifeline in need of help, said Maui County Councilmember Stacy Crivello. The Molokai County representative is urging Mayor Alan Arakawa to seek a $500,000 appropriation from the county’s 2015 budget to help keep transportation link between Molokai and Maui afloat. Crivello, who holds the council seat for the Molokai residency area, introduced the resolution which was expected to be presented as part of the April 7 council meeting agenda.
According to Crivello, ferry owner David Jung says the Molokai ferry may have to be shut down, or services cut, because of difficult economic conditions. Jung reported a dramatic drop in ridership last year, with a resulting loss of more than $280,000.
The loss of ferry operations would create hardships for the people of Molokai, Crivello said; many residents rely on its services to reach work. The ferry is also crucial for Molokai residents to be able to participate in numerous academic, athletic, cultural, social and economic events, she said.
In her resolution, Crivello urges the mayor to seek appropriations from the county’s Economic Development Revolving Fund, which has an estimated available balance of $1 million. The EDRF was established in 2011 to support economic development in the county.
The proposed budget amendment would enable the council to consider interim funding for the continued operation of the ferry, while the administration explores a more favorable cost-sharing arrangement with the State of Hawaii or other long-term solutions.
“I urge my counterparts at the state legislature to look at potential long-term funding sources to save the Molokai ferry,” said Crivello, who noted the council isn’t able to formally initiate budget amendments. “Meanwhile, I hope the mayor will provide the council the vehicle to address this urgent need, by transmitting the requested budget amendment.”
Lahaina Cruise Company, which runs the ferry, currently operates twice-daily round trips between Maui and Molokai using a vessel certified to carry 149 passengers. The ferry provides subsidized commuter service for employees working in hotels and resorts in West Maui. According to the resolution, the ferry could be shut down as soon as June 2015 because of economic hardships.
Additional testimony in support of the funding may be emailed to [email protected]
Photo courtesy County of Maui