- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A Maui City Council member is seeking a $500,000 county subsidy to continue operating the Molokai ferry, whose ridership has plummeted in recent months.

Molokai-based council member Stacy Crivello has introduced a resolution urging the administration of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa to propose an amendment over the issue to the current fiscal year budget, the Maui News (https://is.gd/yhYyzp) reported. The matter will be reviewed at the City Council meeting next Tuesday.

Crivello said this week that the ferry between Maui and Molokai is “a lifeline in need of help.” Budget amendments can be proposed only by a mayor.

Ferry owner Dave Jung has said ridership sharply dropped in the past six months. He said part of the reason for the decrease is because airlines are able to offer trips at cheaper rates.

Crivello said the decrease meant a revenue loss of more than $280,000 last year.

Sea Link of Hawaii, doing business as Lahaina Cruise Co., sent a letter last week to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission requesting a service reduction for the ferry from two round trips to one.

Crivello said the loss of the ferry would create a hardship for residents on Molokai who rely on it to commute to work and participate in various activities on Maui.

In her resolution, Crivello seeks the appropriation from the county Economic Development Revolving Fund, which has an estimated available balance of $1 million.

The money would provide interim funding for the ferry while the administration explores a cost-sharing approach with the state or looks at other long-term solutions.

“I urge my counterparts at the state Legislature to look at potential long-term funding sources to save the Molokai ferry,” Crivello said. “Meanwhile, I hope the mayor will provide the council the vehicle to addresses this urgent need, by transmitting the requested budget amendment.”

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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