Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Tale Of Two Ferries

As I avail myself of ferry transportation every day, I am always fascinated with the genre and it's twists and turns. For instance, on the ferry I take, I continue to be frustrated by their lack of vision. Two key runs sell out in the morning, and all others continue to be a dramatic money loser; rather than cut service in those dead times and offer a third run in the peak times, the Golden Gate Ferry continues to plod along without changes. Heck, contract the onboard beverage service to Peet's or Starbucks, and take a piece of the revenue!

However I complain about my ferry, it is still a magnificent way to commute. Folks in Sydney seem to feel the same, as they have started to experience not just great ferry service, but eco-friendly ferry service. With a combination of flexible solar panels and wind harnessing, they commute with half of the emissions of a traditional high-speed ferry. Nice work, down under.

On the flipside, there are my friends at Hawaii Superferry. A massive service, with accommodations for passengers and hundreds of vehicles, they aim to address a major issue with the multiple islands of Hawaii: inter island travel. The ship is more luxury liner than commuter ferry, and the service is modeled around an airline, as opposed to the traditional public transportation approach. Unfortunately, the residents of the islands it was to service protested the potential ecological impact of such a large ship, and blocked the service, just days before it was set to start, causing the layoffs of hundreds of workers. The ship itself is stunning, with all of the modern conveniences and a first class area that has to be seen to be believed. Disclaimer: my company provides the frequent traveler program for HSF.

Here's to hoping the world of aquatic transport continues to grow and innovate, as it's the most stress and traffic free transportation system the Coasts and Islands can imagine.

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