Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

The Best and Worst of 2007

Happy New Year. 2007 has come and gone and now is a good time for a very brief review….


Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07

The Hawaii Superferry arrived in the islands and finally set sail on a close to regular schedule on December 13 after an aborted start in late August. I was so luck y as to be on that “return to commercial service” trip as a freelance photographer for a media outlet. The bumpy ride going over to Maui was memorable and the return nearly as smooth as silk.

The voyage was the culmination of my personal documentation of the Superferry as it plowed through a sea of controversy from the time it was built, arrived in the islands and subjected to court orders and a special legislative session, which in the end, cleared it for service. Today despite bad weather, the Superferry is making regular trips between Honolulu and Maui in what hopefully will be a success story for the new year.

Another highlight of 2007 was the spectacular air shows offered by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Thousands of island residents turned out to watch the government sponsored aviation aerobatics as talented fighter pilots from these elite squadrons entertained the public in their own unique way to get young people interested in a military career. I was lucky enough to snap off several hundred photos at the Thunderbirds show from Magic Island Beach Park in Honolulu.

The University of Hawaii Warrior football team was certainly made big news for islanders as they went through their football season relatively unscathed while compiling an impressive and record setting 12 – 0 win-loss regular season…. the first for the U.H., and the best and only unbeaten regular college football team in the country. The U.H. Warriors put their unblemished record to the final test today as they play for the BCS Sugar Bowl title in New Orleans against Georgia.

I Flew Go!

The local inter-island airfare war continued throughout 2007. Mesa Airlines’ Go! set the agenda for low inter-island fares that came tumbling down to $1 on one occasion. I was lucky enough to make trips to the Big Island at fare levels of $9 and $19 each way this year. The big 2 airlines, Hawaiian and Aloha hated the fare war enough to take Go to court. Hawaiian won their case and Aloha’s set for trial in April 2008. Feisty Go! is still around, selling discount fares for $39. The fare war is good for consumers and the local traveling public.

The design for the Hawaii Quarter was unveiled. In late 2008 the last in the 50 states series will be minted and feature a design of the 8 Hawaiian islands and King Kamehameha on the reverse side. While Hawaii’s quarter was to have been the last in the series, another half dozen or so new designs will also be forthcoming to commemorate the territories and the District of Columbia quite possibly in 2009 and continuing to 2010.

In late August Hawaii sky observers were treated to a clearly seen and highly visible total eclipse of the moon. I was lucky enough to capture a series of photos of this heavenly phenomenon without pesky clouds blocking my view.

Apple introduced the iPhone, iPod Touch and new iMacs. Mac OSX version 5 was also released. Apple stock ended the year at $198 per share as they became the 3rd most popular selling computer maker in America. joined the digital music fray by offering DRM-free, downloadable tracks to compete with Apple’s iTunes, which this year also offered selected DRM-free tracks from mainly Capitol/EMI. Music downloads without DRM is a good thing. Let’s hope this trend continues into 2008 and beyond.


For those who are concerned about their pocketbook, 2007 certainly got off to a very bad start. On January 1 the State’s General Excise Tax climbed from 4% to 4.5% , hitting nearly every consumer in the wallet as the cost of final goods and services are rendered. What do the public get out of the .5% (more properly read 12.5%) tax increase?

2007 Small Business Hawaii Conference

Funding for a choo-choo train line to be built by the City and County of Honolulu to the tune of at least $6.4 billion dollars. This will be a rail line that will travel from West Oahu’s Kapolei community and finishing off somewhere in Honolulu near or at Ala Moana Shopping Center. The tax train to nowhere will become an even bigger headache in the years to come as more and more of our money are taken away to build a railroad that is supposed to alleviate traffic congestion but really won’t. The government knows that but they keep on moving with this choo-choo train fantasy.

Thanks Governor Linda Lingle for letting the tax increase bill get by without a veto in 2005. Thanks Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has gone against his mantra of “do we need it” “can we afford it” and “can we maintain it”…. Our “mess-transit” nightmare will continue unless the Mayor and current council members up for reelection in 2008 are tossed out and replaced. It is my hope that groups such as Let Honolulu Vote and prevail in the ongoing issue of mass transit, the rail tax and the Mufi train to hell.

Other bad news for 2007:

Hawaii was still rattled by earthquakes long after the big one in 2006 shook us statewide on an early Sunday morning.

Big storms and heavy seas delayed the launch of the Hawaii Superferry. Humans bent on seeing the service not happen made worst storm waves by using the legal system to shut down operations in August before the legislature and governor intervened with a new law to exempt the service while a required Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is done.

Airline prices may climb in 2008 as Mesa Airlines lost its case against Hawaiian Airlines to the tune of $90 million in federal court. Should Mesa’s Go! leave the Hawaii market, island travelers and consumers will be whacked with severely increased costs to travel to another island.

Lastly property taxes continue to rise as we all get assessed for higher values as scores of developers and speculators push the cost of owning a home beyond what our dwellings are actually worth. Go figure.

Let’s hope that 2008 can be a better year where cost can be reigned in and more free market principles take root. Remember it’s an election year and it is another chance for the public to throw out the old cronies of the “tax and spend” generation.

Have a Happy New Year!

Hawaii Superferry Resumes Service December 1

Hawaii Superferry

Hawaii Superferry will relaunch its commercial service on December 1. It was announced on Friday afternoon by Hawaii Superferry as discount tickets went on sale at their website for $29 per person, each way during a promotional period from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20. After that Superferry will be pricing their fares at $39 each way to March 12. The fare structure only covers passengers but does not include the fuel surcharge which is being waived during the promotional period.

Superferry service will only be available between the islands of Oahu and Maui. Hawaii Superferry is not sailing to Kauai until potential secuirty problems can be worked out with the community there.

I hope it is smooth sailing for Superferry as they resume their interisland service to Maui and Oahu. The fare structure for now is good, right in line with the interisland airlines. I can understand them continuing to charge at least $55 for a standard vehicle since cars, vans and SUVs are fairly large.

Superferry service resumes after a long legal battle which included a convening of a special legislative session and a new law signed by the Governor in order to get the vessel running while an environmental study is conducted. The Superferry issue has been a galvanizing topic in Hawaii for several months with most of the public overwhelmingly supporting the service.

The Hawaii Superferry is Here

Hawaii Superferry

The Hawaii Superferry will be a classy new way to travel inter-island. Residents and business users will be able to travel to another island bringing their own vehicle with them. This new interisland travel option will allow passengers to bring their vehicles with them for a weekend getaway, a month or more of travel to another island. The big plus is that passengers will be able to load their vehicles up with all of their personal belongings or goods (in the case of businesses) and take them along for the trip.

Hawaii Superferry starts passenger service sometime after September 5. The vessel called The Alakai will undergo Coast Guard certification over the next few weeks. It is expected to get its okay soon after.

The Hawaii Superferry was built in Alabama and after initial testing, was sailed to the islands last month, passing through the Panama Canal during its 17-day voyage. This ship is the first of 2 that will be in service in Hawaii by 2009.

  • Hawaii Superferry Photos

    Top Photo: The main deck dining area of the Hawaii Superferry.

    Hawaii Superferry
    The forward section of the Alakai will offer panoramic views of the Hawaiian islands.

  • 2007 First Hawaiian Auto Show

    2007 First Hawaiian Auto Show

    Everyone loves new cars. The sights, the smells, the power… the prices… well not everything. This weekend thousands of people flocked to the annual First Hawaiian Bank Auto Show held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. I attended the auto show and took a lot of photos, not to mention sat in a few of the display cars and checked out their features and prices. The annual display of motor vehicles presents the public with an opportunity to look, touch and sit in brand new cars without all of the hassle associated with going to a new car dealership.

    Photo: Chevrolet Corvette.

    More photos: Mel’s Auto Show Page | BuzzNet | Flickr

    Queen Mary 2 Stops in Honolulu

    Queen Mary 2 In Honolulu

    Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 stopped in Honolulu on Friday, February 9 as part of her 81-day around the world cruise. She left from San Francisco a few days before. Spent a whole day in Hawaii before leaving the same night for Pago Pago American Samoa. Here she is coming into Honolulu Harbor early that Friday morning. Photo shot from Kakaako Waterfront Park.

    I Flew “Go!”

    I flew on Go!, Hawaii’s new discount air carrier for the first time yesterday on a flight from Hilo back to Honolulu. Go! caused quite a commotion in the interisland airline industry when it entered the market this past June offering discount airfares at $39 one-way between any island. This undercut the previous low by the incumbent airlines, Aloha, Hawaiian and Island Air by $40, which of course they had to match.

    Since then the ongoing fare war has brought fares to all time lows of $19 and $29 in recent weeks and months, all triggered by Go! The airline is owned and operated by Mesa Airlines and have been accused by the incumbent carriers of using predatory pricing to drive one of them out of the market.

    While the airlines squabble in the interisland market over pricing, the consumer and interisland traveller is the winner. Many people who have shunned interisland travel due to high prices since 9-11-2001 have slowly come back to do more travelling this year than in recent memory. I for one have made more trips to visit family on the Big Island of Hawaii since the fare war began.

    Yesterday was my first flight on Go! The flight was pleasant like any other interisland jet trip. The service was good, though you had to buy your drink instead of getting a complimentary juice like they do on Hawaiian and Aloha. Despite that, my flight was smooth and my checked-in bag was not lost and was reunited with me shortly after we deplaned in Honolulu.

    Anyone considering flying interisland should take advantage of the current discount prices and at least give Go! a try.

    More photos:

    On Street Parking in Jeopardy

    One of the most precious commodities in Honolulu and any other city is the availability of on-street parking. On-street parking in residential neighborhoods and business areas benefit all. Small businesses depend on the availability of on-street parking as part of their business plans, especially those located in buildings with no on-site parking.

    A new City Charter amendment mandating that the City Transportation Department adopt a sweeping “pedestrian and bicycle friendly” stance into all planning is a bad idea. Most people like pedestrian and bicycle friendly neighborhoods and that is fine. However this should mandate should not be made as part of our city charter. Instead planning for pedestrian and bicycle access should be made on a case-by-case basis as it is now.

    City Charter Amendment #8 should be defeated. Vote “no”.


    I drive a cab on the beautiful “Magic Isle” of Mau’i. I work from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. Those hours mean that I earn the vast majority of my rent money from people who have overindulged in alcohol. Some drunks are obnoxious. Some are mean. A lot are incoherent. The vast majority are just silly/stupid. It is almost an art form in how a driver deals with drunks.

    I had these three people in my cab on two successive nights. They are happy, boisterous.
    2006-09-22%20003.jpgSteve ~ Terra ~ Mike
    Steve and Mike are from New Jersey. Terra is from California. They are on Mau’i for a wedding that occurred on Thursday.

    The ride with them last night was about 20-minutes long. This is a 3-minute segment of that journey. While this is technically a video, it was dark in the cab, so just listen to the audio.

    I would call this a “typical” cab ride at night.

    RSS readers click here to listen

    The Mother of All Traffic Jams


    It was the “mother of all traffic jams” last night after an Army tractor trailer truck with a crane on top of it scraped and damaged an overhead pedestrian walkway crossing the H1 freeway yesterday. The afternoon accident forced the state to shut down the H1 shortly after, which made the homebound traffic commute a nightmare for motorists living on the Leeward side of Oahu.

    The freeway was shut down for up to 12 hours yesterday into the wee hours of this morning while state construction crews dismantled the overpass. Commuters spent many hours stuck in traffic, even if they delayed their commute by a few hours away from the rush hour peak. The sad fact was rush hour never peaked and got over until very, very late last night and quite possibly into the morning.

    A friend of mine spent many hours stuck in The Bus on his homebound commute from Honolulu back to Ewa Beach. He called me at home to get an update of the traffic situation. All I could do was provide him with snippets of information that I got from the late evening TV news, the Honolulu traffic camera website and a few postings on the message board site. In all a truly sad evening commute.

    This morning part of the overpass is down and certainly an investigation has probably already started. The public will definitely blame the military for this since it was a military vehicle and its cargo that caused this mess.

    Links to more information:

    Photo: A video still of last night’s mega traffic jam on the H1 freeway as captured from KITV 4 News @


    Today starts the long Labor (Labour) Day holiday weekend in Canada and the US. If you are going to drink, please have a designated driver or better yet, CALL A CAB! Thats why we are here. I always approach holidays with the concept that I am the only sober person on the road. Its called defensive driving. Always expect the unexpected.

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