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Submitted: May 31, 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
The MHS is necessary for Alaska. It is integral to our villages and the way of life many of us live here to pursue. There are many ways to economize and expand service. Is this a part in a maneuver to get voter approval on "Alaska is open for business" proposals where the long view is ignored?Submitted: March 12, 2019
Redo labor contracts. No additional ferries for special activities, IF that results in additional operating costs! The activities need to plan according to regular ferry schedules. Essential services are 2 north and 2 south per week in SE comm with only one being Bellingham run. Should have had an income tax all along, it existed when I came to Alaska. The Legislatures have squandered away a kings ransom in addition to what small amount went into perm fund for residents. State could have saved some for future also. When you rob APF we will still face budget shortfalls as in National Dems and Social Security surplus gone!Submitted: March 12, 2019
I feel lowering prices and using social media for free advertising to increase ridership would help.Submitted: March 12, 2019
Some young people on POW and are willing to contribute their pin up with clothing portraits posing on the ferries, including POW inter-island ferry towards making a promotional calendar for the ferries. If every photo included the spectacular scenery of remote ports, coupled with a list of local needs for service, these might sell well to tourists. We certainly have some good looking youth in Alaska who want to stay in their home communities, but this requires transportation of goods and travel, esp for childbirth, work related medical care etc. when the planes can't fly.Submitted: March 09, 2019
Renew the fleet with standardized ships and allow operations to be guided by personnel with expertise in the maritime industry, uninhibited by political dictates and pressure.
A great deal of our costs and problems now stem from an aging fleet subject to very costly repairs and upgrades. If new ships are introduced into service, reliability and efficiency would increase 100 fold. With Federal funding assistance Alaska could revive AMHS and provide service for the next 50 years with new ships that could operate far more efficiently than our aging fleet.
Standardized ships would prove extremely efficient and cost effective in both the construction phase (one design for several ships), standardized maintenance system (parts and systems all the same throughout the fleet) and operationally efficient since each ship could be assigned to any route and port in the system, excluding SW and the Aleutian Chain where an elevator system is necessary.
Submitted: March 03, 2019
The FB site presenting the ferry services completely neglects to note the importance of the Prince Rupert to Ketchikan route. The Prince Rupert connection allows countless Alaskans who are First Nations/Native Alaskans, namely Haida, Tsimshian, and Tlingit, to travel from Haida Gwaii to connect on a regular basis with family on POW, Met and Ketchikan area. It is also the Gateway to Alaska for tourists bringing up motor homes and campers who are Americans from the lower 48 and Canadians, all adding directly to local economics. Schools and sporting events depend upon this international route - as in the annual All Native Basketball Tournament and various recreational activities to Canadian activities. For over 50 years Alaskan families who cannot afford to visit relatives or ship supplies by a monopoly airline, have made use of the Prince Rupert to Ketchikan route, driving all the way down to the other border. The Prince Rupert to KTN route is the Other Alaskan Highway. The one I drive every day doesn't even connect to the part of Alaska where my property and home is in southeast AK. Maybe it is time to give POW back to Canada and let BC provide full transportation as they have recently been increasing their ferry service to remote coastal communities. Operations: sorry but discontinue free and reduced rides for family member; Consider what is feasible to apply from BC Ferries to AK Marine H; Funding: Congress to be lobbied for increased Federal Highway funds, and more focus on tourism as a healthier alternative for the environment than the big cruise ships (which should be banned not increased).Submitted: March 03, 2019