Thursday, March 26, 2009

Young Brothers Barge Company corrects misperceptions


"Young Bros. refutes claims;
Company officials say story contained ‘incorrect facts’"
By CHRIS HAMILTON, Staff Writer Maui News
POSTED: March 26, 2009

KAHULUI - Young Brothers Ltd. freight company officials this week countered recent claims from passengers and local business representatives that Hawaii Superferry was a less expensive and quicker transportation alternative.

Young Brothers spokeswoman Lynette Lo Tom contacted The Maui News on Tuesday to counter and clarify some "incorrect facts that people have said" about the barge company in a story published Sunday on Page A3 and continued on A5.

The story came in the wake of Superferry officials' decision to stop interisland service after a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that the ferry could not operate under a state law passed to allow a "large-capacity vessel" to operate without an environmental impact statement. The story was told primarily from the viewpoint of Superferry employees as well as local contractors, small-business owners and farmers who had come to rely on what they said was the Superferry's fast and affordable service over the past 11 months.

"We want to be sensitive to Superferry employees (who were laid off last week) and what they are going through," said Young Brothers sales and marketing manager Keith Kiyotoki. "We don't want to seem insensitive to their plight and same time be careful not allow incorrect information out there."

Here are some of the exceptions Kiyotoki and Roy Catalani, company vice president of strategic planning and government affairs, took to the business owners' and passengers' comments:

* Superferry passengers said other methods of transportation between Kahului and Honolulu "take days" while the ferry could get passengers and their vehicles to their destination within a matter of hours. Young Brothers officials said their barge service typically takes two days. Weekday trips depart about 5 p.m. and arrive 5 or 6 a.m. the next morning. Customers can book their trips up to one day in advance.

* The Young Brothers officials said it's not correct to say that their company and others have not undergone environmental review for harbor projects. The 109-year-old Young Brothers has in the past and is today undergoing environmental reviews consistent with the same environmental review laws that apply to Superferry. The requirements kick in whenever the Hawaii Department of Transportation makes harbor improvements, including those laid out in the current Kahului Harbor 2020 master plan and proposed 2030 master plan.

* Contrary to what some may believe, Young Brothers has offered a 30 percent discount to agricultural distributors for the past 13 years, company officials said.

* Young Brothers has the ability to plug in refrigeration trucks during an interisland trip. The barge company also has its own refrigeration containers that cost as little as $30 to rent to store 500 pounds of fresh produce or more...

Young Brothers has a request before the Public Utilities Commission to reduce a number of rates, company officials said.

"We believe we provide an essential service to the islands and want to ensure that we continue to provide that service at a fair rate," Catalani said.

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