POSTED: 1 July 2006 - 2:00am HST

Rochester - Toronto ferry not doing well

The economically shaky Toronto-Rochester FastFerry service uses same kind of ship as SuperFerry

by Juan Wilson on 1 July 2006

The new ferry service between Toronto and Rochester is not doing well. In general, is perceived to be advantageous to the much larger city Toronto. The service uses the same size and kind of ship as is proposed between Oahu and the outer islands.

In the first few months of operation it lost more than four million dollars. Some are saying a smaller ship should have been put in use. Others are saying that the only way to save the service is to start casino gambling on board.

Is this the future that awaits us?

Toronto Star Editorial Slams Ferry
by Liz Medhin 5 November 2005 in the Rochester News

Supporters of Rochester's Fast Ferry are fired up. They are on the defensive again after an unflattering editorial in a Toronto newspaper.

The editorial criticized Mayor Bill Johnson's request for financial help from Canada and predicts that the ferry will fail.

“I think that as people get used to the idea it'll only pick up," Don Locke of Milton. He and his wife came in on the ferry Saturday.

After taking the ferry twice from Toronto to Rochester, Locke said he had to bring his wife along.

"Oh, it was very relaxing,” Patricia Locke said. “Sit there, watch a movie, then we had lunch. Then we watched the shoreline when we came in."

The two say they don't agree with the Toronto Star's editorial. It said Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson's request for Canadian tourism dollars should be "politely denied." It goes on to say "Johnson should look elsewhere. Canadians are under no obligation to bail out this sinking ferry service, especially since its odds of survival are slim, no matter what we do."

Mayor Johnson says he couldn’t disagree more.

“The money that we are talking about is money that is set aside to promote tourism in Canada,” Johnson explained. “That editorial is a little short sighted, but I think that once we are able to meet with the appropriate people, they are going to understand exactly what we are talking about.”

The Lockes agree.

Even though the ferry's first six months this year lost five times more than the expected $700,000, the say it's too soon to judge and that more promotion could help.

They hope more take the short trip across the lake, before a rebound is dead in the water.

"While Rochester is a beautiful place, Toronto has got a lot to offer as well,” Locke continued. “I think, having a ferry only benefits Toronto. I don't see why they wouldn't consider it."

Toronto Star Article Blasts Fast Ferry
by Rochester News Staff on 5 November 2005

The fast ferry is once again the target of criticism in a Toronto newspaper.
This time it's an editorial in the Toronto Star that has some upset. Mayor Johnson recently called for Canadians to chip in tourism dollars to help the project. The editorial in Friday's Star says Mayor Johnson's request should be politely denied.
It goes on to say, "Johnson should look elsewhere. Canadians are no under obligation to bail out this sinking ferry service, especially since its odds of survival are slim, no matter what we do."

We asked ferry board member Gladys Santiago to respond. She said, "You really don't want to know how I'd respond to it. But I'll tell you that we know that we're going to be successful. They don't know what they're talking about, to be truthful with you. We're very optimistic that the ferry will make it on the other side. Yes, it's had its problems, but we have an excellent management team up front with it."
Last week the ferry board showed the operation lost more than $4-million in its first two months of service.

Will Ferry Still Float After the Election?
by Kyle Clark on 5 November for WHAM Rochester

The next mayor of Rochester will inherit a fast ferry in rough financial waters.
The ferry lost more than $4 million in its first three months of operation.
We asked the candidates for mayor a series of yes or no questions about the ferry.

First: Should Rochester try to share ownership of the ferry with Monroe County, New York State or Canada?

Republican John Parrinello says yes.
Red, White and Blue candidate Chris Maj says no.

Democrat Bob Duffy and Working Families candidate Tim Mains both say they wouldn't rule it out, but it's not their strategy for righting the ship.

"The solution to the ferry is a casino," Parrinello said. He supports onboard gambling.

So does Maj.

Duffy and Mains say maybe.

Next question: Should we sell it or trade it in for a smaller model?

Duffy says it's too early to tell.

Mains says trade it.

Parrinello would consider selling it.

Maj would leave it up to the voters.

"I think we should take a vote on big ticket items like the ferry," he said.
Next: Should the ferry's monthly reports be opened up so taxpayers can see how it's doing?

Everyone is on board with that except Duffy, who promises more transparency, but wouldn't commit to opening the books.

Last question: Should the public cough up more cash to fuel the ferry?

Maj and Parrinello say no.

Duffy and Mains wouldn't rule it out, but both put conditions on that 'yes'.

"I'm not going to subsidize the boat at the sacrifice of the fiscal health of the city," Mains said.

"Using additional taxpayer money or a subsidy is going to be the last resort," Duffy said.

There's a good amount of "wait and see" from the candidates. It's impossible to tell where the boat is headed from here.


POSTED: 30 June 2006 - 2:30am HST

Letter to Governor on SuperFerry

Aloha Governor Lingle,

The SuperFerry is a major issue to us on Kaua`i. Many of us attended the meetings the HSF/DOT had this week here on Kaua`i.

I attended the Wilcox School, Lihue meeting on Tues. 6/27/06. The dog and pony show that Hawaii SuperFerry (HSF) presented to us didn't really leave us any time to ask hard questions. We were able to comment but I think it left may of us feeling that since is a "done deal" that what we had to say fell on deaf ears. I found out that HSF only did these meetings because Kauai County passed resolutions for 3 meetings to take place. I would've thought these 3 meetings would've taken place during 3 different stages of the HSF not all 3 meetings in 2 days!

My first concern is that no Evironmental Impact Study (EIS) was done prior to the approval of the $40 million that was appropriated to the Department of Transportation-Harbors Division (DOT-Harbor) for the HSF. I thought that any private business that uses public funds must have impact statements? Who decided that this need not happen? The DOT powers that be? I know that the interpretations are being challenged on Maui by a group called Maui Tomorrow. Even though HSF say they have a whale avoidance and invasives species policy, that isn't an EIS. This will affect us culturally and economically as well.

What is HSF's operational plan for Kaua`i? How can they inspect for banned agricultural by-products, pests, drugs and/or materials used to manufacture drugs like ice in a one hour's turn-around time? Who is going to pay for additional police? Inspectors? What training will they have to recognize weapons or parts of weapons and/or incendiary devices? What authority will they have to deal with passengers attempting to board with contraband? How extensively will they examine baggages and cars? If there are quarantine offices at each harbor how convenient will it be for passengers to get clearance before boarding?

The HSF will leave Kaua`i at 6:30 PM and arrive in Honolulu at 9:30 PM, that is late. It's not like this is going to be convenient for Kauaiians to use to go to O`ahu in a day's time. This is for the benefit of people coming to Kaua`i not for local people wanting a day in O`ahu and avoid paying the airfare. Also the fares that were presented to us at the meeting excluded fuel surcharges that is unavoidable in this day and age. In the long run, it won't be any cheaper or more convenient for Kauaiians to go to Oahu on HSF rather than Hawaiian or Aloha Airlines.

Traffic is already a major problem on Kaua`i with the overdevelopment and now people will be bringing over more vehicles. We can't get the County or the State to relieve the congestion we have now how is this going to help?

They say they have a 22 yr. committment to Hawaii. Is that to operate the ferry? If so, what happens to the vessels and the construction done to accommodate them and the personnel hired to work for HSF at the end of this period? When exactly did the commitment begin? How is it that Federal and State funds are being used to build these ships over in China?

HSF has an Advisory Board in place, who are these people on Kaua`i? What are their qualifications to serve in this capacity? To whom do they report? One person, Sharon Pomroy, said she was on this Advisory Board at the meeting on 6/27/06 and was rather smug in her speech to the audience that was present.

Governor, my point is, the people of Kaua`i feel they have been handed yet another jagged pill to swallow. I am of the mindset that the HSF will do Kaua`i more harm than good. Why wasn't this issue put to a vote by the people? Are we to become just a suburb of O`ahu? The beauty that is Kaua`i is fading away everyday and that is not pono. I am opposed to this SuperFerry and hope you will look into this matter with more diligence and insight.


Faith Harding

see also
Island Breath: SuperFerry is Coming
Island Breath: Superferry Redux
Island Breath: Superferry Problems