The issue with any type of ferry in Hawaii is not economics. It's hard to explain... but it's something like ... each county in the state is a major island (except Maui County includes Maui, Lanai, and Molokai, and Kauai County includes Kauai and Niihau). Each Island wants to stay as insular as possible, culturally, politically, economically. Think of a parameter, the answer is "stay insular". Ferries decrease insularity. Ferries are opposed at the risk of being sucked under a ferry while protesting the ferry on your surfboard. Ferries that bring cars from Oahu are especially unwelcome. Airline service is accepted ... probably as a necessity for access to professionals and to state and federal governmental agencies. Most of the doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc., and governmental agencies in the state are on Oahu. So, the line in the sand is air service, OK; sea service, kapu.
Rogah that thundacat ! The ferry stalled for a myriad of reasons. Environmental reasons were a big one. Not only the impact of the ferries on sea life but each island is a diverse ecosystem in its own right. There are a lot of small animals, bugs, seeds and spores on our cars that could be transported to other islands that could cause an imbalance to the ecosystem on that island. For instance, fire ants are becoming a problem on the big island but are largely absent on the other islands.
Cultural concerns over preserving way of life on the outer islands and the desire to avoid the big city problems found on Oahu.
Economics is also a factor. The airlines, rental car, taxi and shuttle industries are huge in Hawaii. I'd bet my bottom dollar they had a heavy hand in stalling the ferry. I'd absolutely love hopping on the ferry on a Friday after work with my car to enjoy a weekend on Maui, Big Island or Kauai. I don't have to spend big bucks on HA's monoply fares, go through the hassle at TSA, or wait 15 deep at the rental car place. Drive on to the ferry, drive off and be on my way. To me there is something so relaxing about driving my own car. The ferry would have given the people of Hawaii the chance to road trip around their own state. 'Tis only a fleeting dream now.
That said, I am happy the different counties try and remain as independent as possible. The last thing the outer islands need is the blantant mismanagement and corruption that plagues the C&C of Honolulu. HART anyone?