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Crivello: Molokai ferry is ‘a lifeline in need of help’

By Staff | Apr 9, 2015

The Molokai ferry runs twice-daily round trips from Lahaina Harbor to Kaunakakai Harbor using a vessel certified to carry 149 passengers. It provides subsidized commuter service for employees working in hotels and resorts in West Maui.

WAILUKU – The Molokai ferry, a transportation link between Molokai and Maui, “is a lifeline in need of help,” Maui County Councilmember Stacy Crivello said last week.

Crivello, who holds the council seat for the Molokai residency area, has introduced a resolution urging Mayor Alan Arakawa to propose an amendment to the fiscal year 2015 budget for the continued operation of the ferry.

Crivello’s resolution was on Tuesday’s council meeting agenda.

The ferry is operated by the Lahaina-based Hawaii Ocean Project. According to Crivello, ferry owner David Jung reported a dramatic drop in ridership last year, with a resulting loss of more than $280,000.

Jung said the Molokai ferry may soon be shut down, or services cut, because of difficult economic conditions.

Crivello said loss of the ferry would create hardships for the people of Molokai, who rely on its services to reach work, and limit countywide participation in numerous academic, athletic, cultural, social and economic events.

In her resolution, Crivello urges the mayor to seek a $500,000 appropriation 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.”

Testimony may be e-mailed to county.clerk@mauicounty.us.