Pacific Business News (Honolulu)
April 10, 2006
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - 9:47 AM HAST Monday
Hawaii Superferry says it will be communicating a lot more with lawmakers now that it is closer to launching service in 2007.
Superferry President and CEO John Garibaldi told Pacific Business News that the stepped-up communication was planned before a legislative committee vote last week but will be responsive to it all the same.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted last week to halve the $20 million funding in the next fiscal year for ferry terminal improvements. Maui representatives Shan Tsutsui, D-Wailuku-Kahului-Paia, and Kalani English, D-E. Maui-Molokai-Lanai, said the vote sent a message to Hawaii Superferry to stay in better touch with stakeholders.
"It was disappointing to hear that we weren't talking to them enough," Garibaldi said, "But there is going to be a lot of communication over the next few months, starting with a briefing for the combined House and Senate transportation committees this week."
That informational hearing will take place on Wednesday and was requested by Sen. Lorraine Inouye, D-Waimea-S. Hilo, before last week's House committee vote took place, Garibaldi said.
Last year, when Hawaii Superferry had only three employees, litigation aimed at slowing or blocking the project tied all three up for months, Garibaldi said. "When the suit went away," he said, "we focused on recruiting key people for the company, including the people you need for working with the community. We hired a full-time port operations person and a full-time engineer. We just hired a corporate communications person in recent days."
Hawaii Superferry now has a dozen employees, Garibaldi said, and is in a better position to work with stakeholders on the nuts and bolts of launching service while responding to community concerns such as looking out for whales and making sure Superferry doesn't become an island-to-island vector for invasive species.
Hawaii Superferry has one ferry under construction on the Mainland and intends to order at least one more. The first one is 75 percent complete and its four engines will be installed this month, Garibaldi said, which puts the project on track to launch service as early as the second quarter of 2007.
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Original article URL: http://pacific.bizjournals.com/pacific/stories/2006/04/10/daily4.html