Operator looks to shutter Molokai ferry service after nearly 30 years

Photo: Sea Link Hawaii

The company that operates a ferry service between Maui and Molokai wants to pull the plug after nearly 30 years.

Dave Jung, general manager of Sea Link Hawaii, says ridership has been down and the company lost half-a-million dollars last year.

He says these days, people would rather fly between the two islands. A flight takes only a half-hour versus an hour and 40 minutes by ferry.

Plus it costs $62 for a ferry ride, which is the same price as flying on Island Air, and he’s also seen the airfare drop as low as $36.

So Sea Link is asking for permission from the Public Utilities Commission to cease its Molokai ferry operations. View the request online here (Docket No. 2016-0214).

“It’ll be very difficult for the PUC to try to force us to run, and it’ll just force us into bankruptcy, but if the state and county are unwilling to take the losses, I mean how could you expect a private operator to take the losses?” Jung said.

Jung says on average, there are only about 25 passengers per sailing on a boat that can hold up to 49, and it’s usually half tourists, half locals.

The PUC is asking the public for written comments, and a decision is expected within a month.

Written comments may be mailed to the Commission at 465 South King Street, Room 103, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, or sent by electronic mail to puc.comments@hawaii.gov.

All written comments should reference Docket No. 2016-0214, and include the commenter’s name and the entity or organization the commenter represents.

The commission will review and consider any written comments that are received by the close of business, Sept. 27.

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