AMHS Reform Gains Momentum

AMHS Reform Project/Juneau Empire

The Alaska Marine Highway Reform Steering Committee is pursuing legislative changes to transform the ferry system to a public corporation and pursue forward funding. Led by Southeast Conference, reform efforts are gearing up for the 2018 legislative session.

“Without significant change, the system is at risk of failure,” said Dennis Watson, chair of the statewide committee appointed to chart a course for sustainability. “Right now, we need Alaskans to speak up about the importance of the ferries. We also need financial support to continue our work.”

Southeast Conference recently commissioned Elliott Bay Design Group to take an independent look at the state-owned ferry system. McDowell Group and KPFF were also part of the project team. The AMHS Strategic Business and Operational Plan examined operations, identified potential revenues, and recommended governance changes.

“Many Alaskans don’t recognize the statewide impacts of the ferry system,” said Watson. “AMHS directly served 33 ports and carried residents from 175 Alaska communities.” Revenue and traffic analysis showed that Anchorage and Mat-Su residents accounted for 20,000 passenger bookings and 15 percent of revenue generated by Alaskans. Kenai, Fairbanks, and other interior residents represent an additional 13,000 bookings and another 10 percent of Alaskan revenues.

Check out to find project reports and information, provide feedback, and support reform efforts.

Southeast Conference is an economic development nonprofit that was originally formed to create the state ferries. It promotes strong economies, healthy communities, and a quality environment in the Southeast region.

See also: Researchers developing plan for future of Alaska Marine Highway published in the Juneau Empire