By Duane Shimogawa – February 7 |

HONOLULU (Island News) — It’s been about 15 years since the infamous Hawaii Superferry’s last voyage in the state and lawmakers are gearing up this session to implement other forms of interisland transportation – whether it be by sea or air.

Even though the Hawaii Superferry lasted just two years — docking at piers like Honolulu Harbor — there’s renewed hope on the horizon for more interisland travel options.

“Part of what we’re talking about this session is looking at how we can fund environmental impact statements, how we can do the due diligence, so that we get all of our communities on board to figure out what makes sense for deployment in Hawaii because we know that process is going to take some time, so the faster we can get ahead of that and get everybody lined up, the faster, cheaper, cleaner options to get between the islands and all around the state become real,” said State Sen. Chris Lee, D – Kailua, Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai.

Lee tells Island News that state lawmakers have been working with and hearing from several companies that are looking at new options that have never been rolled out in Hawaii before.

These include electric seagliders, which would start out with carrying 12 passengers and then ramp up to carry up to 100 passengers. It may be cheaper and quicker than the current options out there.

“We like that the Seaglider project is an alternative,” Ed Sniffen, director of the state Department of Transportation, told Island News. “It’s a clean energy, a fuel-efficient one. It’s one that’s supported by our airline partners and it’s one that we can see moving forward.”

In addition to seagliders, there are other options on the table such as “advanced air-mobility” companies that are creating large drones for people, moving five or six people at a time from point to point.

“For technologies like the electric seaglider and some of these advanced air options, these things are not decades away or even years away in some cases,” Lee said. “The FAA is certifying companies to begin commercial operation around the world this year, next year.”

Whenever these options come the state’s way, the state’s department of transportation is ready with whatever infrastructure is needed to make it happen.

“For us at the DOT, again – we take care of the infrastructure, so we just got to know what their plans are, where they are going to operate, what kind of rules they will operate under and see what infrastructure is needed to support them,” Sniffen said.

Businesses are ready as well.

“For businesses, shipping goods is a key factor and anything that can help them mitigate costs or have other options in case one option doesn’t work out is always a good thing,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

For Lee and other lawmakers, it’s “go-time” to unleash other travel alternatives for interisland transportation.

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