Monday, November 19, 2007

Musings: Go More Slow

Awoke this morning to the heady scent of mock orange blossoms and the sound of heavy rain, which delayed my walk into the “danger zone” — the time when there’s a spurt of early traffic.

Encountered my neighbor Andy, who told me I was hard to see, with my blue sweatshirt in that gray half-light before a cloudy morning sunrise, but I gave up white clothes years ago, what with the staining effects of dogs and Kauai’s red clay. From my years of riding a motorcycle, I’ve learned to drive and walk defensively, making no assumptions of safety.

Still, it takes a bit of the fun out of walking when I have to be on heightened alert, which is why I prefer to go earlier, unless rain or sleepiness interferes.

For some reason, Koko, normally a non-barker, has taken to lunging on her leash and barking at noisy trucks that pass us close, traveling fast. Not that I haven’t felt like doing the same thing myself at times — OK, I confess, I have once or twice. Sheesh. What’s the big rush?

Of course, the same could be said about the Superferry and it’s eagerness to get going, despite the lack of an EIS and an abundance of simmering resentment on the Neighbor Islands.

Had lunch yesterday with John Tyler, a really nice guy who told me he’d gotten a lot of hate mail from his website, which he advertises on Google’s Superferry page — with the tag line “Whales die or go deaf, neighbor isl traffic mess, drugs. Learn more. — because he wants to educate folks about the issue.

He’s spent about $2,500 out of his own pocket trying to spread the word about Superferry, and while I don’t know his economic situation, I didn’t get the impression he’s got bucks to burn. I’m always impressed by folks who give so much of their own time and money to fight something they believe is harmful not just to them, but the larger community. It doesn’t seem right that they should get hate mail, especially when they’re up against a team of highly-paid lawyers, lobbyists and PR flacks who likely wouldn’t be involved if they weren’t getting paid.

Speaking of Superferry money, I recall CEO John Garibaldi saying last week something to the effect of “we’re almost out of reserves.”

Brad Parsons of Maui sent me an email that delves further into Superferry’s possible economic straits, based on the low introductory fares to Maui that are being advertised.

“I did some quick calculations and came to some interesting conclusions,” he writes.

“Under these new prices, doing 14 trips to and from Maui, the Superferry will lose as much as $400,000 per week under the early reduced fares without a fuel surcharge. Under the later fare after Dec. 20, the losses would be at least $300,000 per week.

“I am assuming a generous 50% (people) to 100% (autos) demand increase under the lower prices to still come to these losses. I am assuming that Superferry will use the same workforce, but they might be able to save as much as $150,000 a week with less employees. I am also assuming that Superferry's marine diesel fuel source would still be the private market, but if the Superferry has been able to secure a deal with the U.S. Navy for lower cost marine diesel fuel, then they may be able to save as much as $75,000 a week on fuel.

“The Superferry can try to sell lots of merchandise and refreshments on-board, but that would not amount to much more than $200,000 per month. Superferry can also make a big push to get more motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds on-board at $35 each, but I am already factoring that in with a generous 100% increase in autos revenue over the averages that the Superferry was expecting.

“All things considered, with only 14 trips per week, losses would be at least a $1 million a month under these prices with no fuel surcharge. The only benefit for the Superferry is that this gives them short-term working capital (cash) to service their loans in the immediate short-term while their other expenses might be able to be delayed a few weeks, but these low prices cannot be maintained even in the intermediate-term. It just goes to show how desperate a situation the Superferry already is in.”

And just think how much worse it would be if the state weren’t picking up so much of the tab, a subject I’ll delve into a bit more tomorrow. Until then, let’s all take it slow and easy, especially on those narrow country roads.


Anonymous said...

Mahalo for those calculations. It means that the HSF can't function unless it raises its rates. Once it raises its rates, less people will want to use it. Or maybe they'll use it but leave their cars behind because of the added expense. In the end, the HSF will end up a total failure.

Anonymous said...

There's a sign up in the Homesteads that you should copy. It says "Try Slow." It's on Lokelani Rd. off of Kamalu (that little subdivision up at the foot of the Sleeping Giant). Here's a picture on my blog:

PaiaGirl said...

Superferry is in worse financial shape than this.

Someone sent me a copy of a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed in California against HSF because they didn't pay the company that obtained their financing.

Apparently they had already been missing payments as far back as 2005.

Karen on Maui