The problems you have too many workers that get disability, too many administrative personnel that do not actually work on the ferry. The SHIPS, you listen to some engineer with crazy ideas. Sustina was a catamaran, they are unstable in our waters. Then the latest and greatest 2 short ships with no crew quarters. I have been in Alaska for 13 years and always marveled at the one ship in dock in Ketchikan. A new ship not used? Something about Rolls Royce engines, defective but no warranty??? Listen your problem is having a budget. SE Alaska needs you and Southwest Alaska needs you.
Working with Alaska Marine Lines, Samson Tug and others. Recycling. Light load put cargo or stuff on it. Amazon, we need reasonable barge stuff. Bring a container of Amazon stuff. Anything that creates revenue. You need to advertise NOT A LOT but if you worry about ridership, create some ads that entice new customers. I bet a Facebook page called "Alaska best travel" and the cost and picturing the course of travel would bring young folks. Young folks assume Ferry is an unpleasant and slow thing.Submitted: January 23, 2020
I believe that the biggest problem of the AMHS is lack of mid term and long range planning. We currently have 50 year old boats and a 50 year old plan. We need to get away from planning being done by whatever current administration we have. I support a separate entity running the AMHS as in the public corporation model. This should be made up of members appointed by served communities, AMHS administrators, union representatives, and others affected by our ferry system. Terms should rotate out on a staggered basis to promote continuity, and new perspectives.
There are many ways to look at the economics of the AMHS. Minimize cost= eliminate AMHS. Maximize revenue= monopoly pricing. Public service= minimize cost per person served. This is a public service and that is the correct way to view the economics. Pricing this service to minimize subsidy would result in less people served and higher cost per person served.
Our boats are obsolete. We have seen a shift in demand to less passengers compared to vehicles served. I believe that we need more frequent service, at more convenient times to maximize people served. A hub and spoke style with mainliners making minimal stops at say, Bellingham Ketchikan and Juneau only would speed their service greatly. Day boats between prince Rupert, wrangell and Petersburg to Ketchikan would be small boats with no overnight crew, or midnight load/unload. Same would occur in Juneau to the small communities nearby. Additional capacity could be added as needed to supply demand, or reduced as needed to control costs, allowing the boats to run with a reasonable load rather than these winter time empty mainliners stopping in every town along the way.Submitted: January 02, 2020
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Membership of the Valdez Convention % Visitors Bureau we support a reformed, right-sized and sustainable Alaska Marine Highway System as a critical component of the statewide intermodal transportation system and economy of Alaska. Valdez CVB promotes our area as a year around destination for travel and tourism. As a tourism promoter, and a coastal community, the Marine Highway not only brings visitors but services. Keep the marine highway open for business to help grow the travel and tourism industry in the great state of Alaska.Submitted: October 21, 2019
The AMHS provides our family (including 2 adult daughters son in law & grand son) essential transportation to visit family & friends in other coastal communities along with medical services to the Seattle area & leisure travel in Southeast Alaska & beyond. Flying is more difficult with my husband's medical problems & quite frankly the ferry is a more enjoyable way to travel because it is less stressful. When flying, we have been weathered out of returning home if flying...not so with the AMHS.Submitted: September 21, 2019
I work all over coastal alaska and the ferry is vital. Make a reliable schedule, improve access from urban hubs, control prices; patronage will increase. The ferry works, if we let it.Submitted: July 28, 2019
Fire the union workers and hire individuals who are willing to work. This strike needs to stop now! It's costing me thousands of dollars in additional barge and travel costs and I STILL am unsure if I'll make it home. I'll need to pay more money.
Tell the union to accept the state's offer or fire them. Period. This is outrageous.Submitted: July 26, 2019
To the AMHS, the Marine Advisory Board, and the Southeast Conference:
It is inconceivable that Alaska loses its ferry service. Lives have been built, communities and businesses and populations have grown, economies have been stimulated, construction has been enabled, visitors have gained access, and relationships have been fostered between town residents because of the state ferry system. Nothing can replace this traffic and exchange of goods, services, and community interactions. The ferry availability positively affects the entire state’s social and economic structure and the benefits extend far beyond state boundaries.
Like all highways, the ferry system has required state and federal subsidy for maintenance and survival. I don't live in Southcentral Alaska, but I don't begrudge the funds needed to support the Parks Highway, for example; the population majority in that area doesn’t have to shoulder full cost of that road and should likewise respect the importance of marine highways to Alaskan coastal communities and the need to support them. The marine highway links to the Alcan Highway from Haines and Skagway are critical. When I lived in Juneau, we took the ferry to Haines or Skagway to be able to drive to see family in Anchorage and Fairbanks or attend work-related meetings.
Regarding the Operating Plan: overall, there’s more blue & green color indicating some kind of OUT-OF-SERVICE status than there is yellow & orange color indicating vessel time IN-SERVICE. This is very disturbing. It’s unclear what the 2 new ships, HUB & TAZ, are doing. I can’t find a definition for “CIP,” but from the MAL schedule it appears to be the "Federal Project "(whatever THAT is).
First & foremost, "essential service" is service that exists. Different communities have different needs for "essential service" and it changes seasonally. Pelican's needs are not the same as Kodiak's or Juneau's. Overall, "essential service" would be a core minimum of reliability and would be at least weekly for all communities in summer, more for the larger community hubs, and would be reduced to just several days a month in winter when local people tend to travel less and it’s off-season for tourists. Residents and tourists will adapt to a reliable and consistent minimum service level, but a service gap of 6 weeks such as planned for winter in Haines is not acceptable. Such small towns without jet airports, even though we have a highway out, need the ferry consistently in winter because weather can prevent air & highway travel. We can plan IF we know what to expect, but we CAN’T PLAN if there is no service and virtually no alternative!
I support creation of a public corporation to manage an overhauled state ferry system. A FORWARD-THINKING, simpler, consistent and reliable vessel schedule that allows for boatyard time for maintenance and emergencies would help to stabilize the system. Long-term thinking to support our communities and businesses with ferry service is critical. We need long-term thinking to budget for maintenance, unforeseen mechanical or accident-related failures, and getting functional replacement vessels. This must go beyond a single administration, and a public corporation could be an effective way to achieve it.
Regarding revenues, a fee could be charged for transporting goods via the baggage carts. Part of the PFD earnings could be used to support ferry transportation. I'd rather support public services with the PFD than get a bigger check - my educated guess is that most PFD's don't stay in the state to benefit our economy. Passenger-only vessels could be added to the fleet: my guess is it's cheaper to get from Pelican to Juneau for business & shopping without your car, then rent one in the larger community, and just put your purchases on the ferry baggage cart when you return. Maybe a larger cart could be provided (and supported by charging a fee for its use: something like 1 parcel/suitcase free, then $5 for each bag or box thereafter) for this type of commute.
Continuing thoughts on 7-24-2019
I have just written to our Southeast Alaska Senators and Representatives about the brand-new AMHS ferry system strike debacle. The general budget situation and extended legislative sessions to address them are bad enough, but now the ferry strike is ridiculous drama almost beyond bearing. I quote myself below:
“A huge hunk of Haines has been preparing for months and setting up the last several days for the SEAK State Fair. As you know, we are SO dependent on the AMHS for this event. The SEAK State Fair is a huge highlight and economic benefit for Haines' small businesses; it's a supporter of, and annual highlight event for, regional youth 4-H and craftspeople such as quilters; it brings some of the Outside world to us in entertainers and visitors who foster exchange of ideas; it also showcases the local non-profit organizations and countless volunteers who work really hard to make the Fair a high quality, entertaining, and fun experience. Many of us spend untold hours of uncompensated time just for the joy of seeing the community come out and our extended communities reunite. And as Vice Chair of Haines Friends of Recycling and a "worker bee" who helps to make our Zero Waste fair happen (reducing the Fair's waste stream by some 90%!), the strike is devastating news. I personally have 4 sets of friends and family coming to visit during the Fair, 3 of whom who are also making a road trip into the Interior. The Fair connects all of Southeast and brings in representation from Interior Alaska - and we need the ferry to make that happen! This is just one such event that hugely impacts our communities - the Haines Brewfest, the Eaglefest, the International Kluane Bike Relay, Sitka Whalefest, the Skagway Klondike Road Relay, Petersburg's Little Norway, school sports: all manner of festivals and celebrations and competitions around Southeast rely on the ferry system in a similar way as the SEAK State Fair does. I'm a lifelong resident of the State of Alaska who has extensively used the ferry system for nearly 60 years: I grew up in Wrangell riding the ferries since 1963 for all manner of school events, lived in Kodiak, worked in Prince William Sound, spent a 39 year career in Juneau, and now I live in Haines. We are simply sickened by the latest AMHS system threats illustrated by the need for the Inland Boatmen's Union to strike because of prolonged wage issues and the current governor's draconian budget....”
Submitted: July 24, 2019
I don't know enough about the financial workings of the ferry system to offer efficiency recommendations (although new vessels, while expensive initially to build, would likely be easier to maintain and operate more efficiently over the long run). It does seem obvious that the ferry system will always need a level of subsidy and that it will never make a profit within its own operations. However, I would like to offer an observation; the ferry system drives economic activity by providing shipping and transportation services that otherwise would not be possible. This economic activity transfers some revenue back to the State. This return revenue and growth benefit should be considered when focusing on how much of a subsidy the ferry system should be given and what level of help rural communities should get from the State in regard to transportation infrastructure. In simpler terms, the operating loss may not be as big as it first seems after considering hidden benefits and invisible revenue flows from economic activity made possible only by ferry transportation.
For example, in my home town of Pelican we are closest to the best fishing grounds. We are however, farthest away from the transportation hub. Years ago our salmon processing plant went bankrupt and the town has been shrinking ever since. The fish are still here and we have a few fledgeling custom fish processing companies trying to make a go of it. It turns out that the State Ferry is currently the one and only economical way to transport fish from Pelican to market. The community of Pelican desperately needs ferry service at this crucial time as we move in to a new future.
Is it worth it to subsidize transportation in order to reap the benefits of economic growth? We have our natural resources and could bring a lot of fish to market, It would be a shame to not get as much worth out of them as possible. The continuation of ferry service would allow that.
When looking at the future, it seems that "public private" infrastructure is the way the wind is blowing. While states budgets are not looking so good all around the country the federal government is making it clear they will be ready and willing to invest in America through infrastructure stimulus and will keep interest rates low. Changing the structure of the Ferry System from a line agency of the State of Alaska to a Public Corporation may allow easier access to federal funding?Submitted: April 03, 2019
We live in Ketchikan and have an RV and go to Prince Rupert to go south for our medical and a little vacation. I am very outraged about the suggestion the AMH abandon Prince Rupert as a port! The Bellingham run is outrageously overpriced and is unaffordable for most residents! We are presently south and I have reservations to go from Rupert to Ketchikan, our truck & trailer is 57' overall, have a cat, and need a stateroom, cost is $694. To go from Bellingham to Ketchikan the cost would be $6315 plus meals! They want almost $600 just for a spartan bunk bed stateroom! I don't need a ferry to Bellingham, and I don't think most residents of southeast Alaska do, WE NEED THE FERRY TO PRINCE RUPERT AND AFFORDABLE RATES, AND RELIABLE SERVICE, NEEDS TO BE TWICE A WEEK MINIMUM!Submitted: March 29, 2019
The AMHS is vital piece of Alaska’s infrastructure. It is shocking that public testimony is needed to establish that. Our economy depends on the ability for people and businesses to be able to reliably transport goods and the people needed to provide services across our great land. In addition our schools and communities need the AMHS for transportation to stay connected with our state. Community events, such as Gold Medal Basketball, the Klondike road race, The Alaska Folk Festival to name a few are gatherings that not only fun, they create a sense of community across the distances inherent in a state as vast as ours. It is shot sighted and detrimental to the businesses, the state economy and the social fabric of our state to even contemplate cuts such as The governor has suggested.Submitted: March 14, 2019