"What can be done to generate more operating revenue while still providing affordable service?"
I think we should open the ships and terminals up to private vendors. We could rent out space on the ships to people who want to provide goods, or services to our passengers. For example; someone could install a movie server on a ship, that rents movies via WiFi. We provide space, power and someone to reset it, and they pay us for the privilege. The vendor buys the equipment, maintains it, and they keep the profits. This way, any costs will be born by the vendor, not the state. Proposals will need vetting by the state, since there may be union conflicts, or safety concerns.
Submitted: July 24, 2017
While I am currently a resident of Anchorage I have been making annual (in April) trips to Cordova for the last six years. This year was the second year that I was able to utilize the ferry system. The limited schedule of availability has forced me to fly (and rent a vehicle). The first time five (?) years ago I was able to travel on the fast ferry, but this year I utilized the Aurora which even though it was much slower at least I was able to use the ferry system.
I hope to retire in a couple of years and have been planning on moving back to Cordova. One of my concerns is knowing that there will be adequate ferry service for the next twenty years. It would be high risk investment if the ferry system was to all of a sudden be reduced to a limited or no scheduled service, or a very expensive service.Submitted: July 24, 2017
Change your name from Southeast Conference to something more inclusive of all communities, such as 'Alaska Coastal Conference'. Politically we need to shed the idea that the ferry is only of concern in Southeast. PWS, Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak communities are involved and occasionally Aleutian chain communities. Not to mention that many customers are headed to the Interior. "Southeast" conference is maintaining an old handicap.Submitted: July 21, 2017
1) Run the system like a cruise line. They do not make any money on ticket sales. They make all their money from onboard revenue. They charge for WiFi, Drinks (Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic), Casino, Tours, Shopping, Art, Photos, Movies, etc. Also, it is far cheaper to take a cruise to get from WA to Whittier. Further, if there is any traction with the Jones Act repeal, cruise lines could put AMHS out of business.
2) Ticket prices are unaffordable for many and only make fiscal sense to purchase over an airplane ticket for a handful of communities. The smaller communities will be the ones to suffer most if this trend continues.
3) Develop and implement a multi-year plan that is at minimum 5 years out. Schedules should be available to book for 1 year out at all times and incorporate yield management to offer promotions again.
Submitted: July 21, 2017
I feel that to restructure a more solid and firm foundation for financial needs of the Alaska Marine Highway, as with anything, it would have to be broke down and torn apart and replaced with more functional necessities.
The first problem is AMHS should not be run by politics.
The second, it is entirely mismanaged by either inexperienced or unqualified people. Who at KCO has actually made it to the level of Captain of a ship or more specifically, a ferry Captain of AMHS? Port captains are hired with little-to-no experience and handle the job with insecurities to the Captains beneath them who actually have the experience necessary, but go largely ignored with their input.
Third, treat your employees better on the vessels. All workong aboard from top to bottom.
You keep doing the same thing with the same ineffective people, you get the same negative result.
Change your management out from the ineffective and unproductive people and replace with people who can do the job right.Submitted: July 17, 2017
My thought is this: if the ferry system is struggling because of low passenger count, why not lower the prices to encourage more people to ride the ferries? More people riding the boats would be bringing in more income than the sparse numbers or the seasonal riders.
Submitted: July 17, 2017
I'm a life long Alaskan & remember the ferry Malispina stopping in Cordova where I was born & raised. The AMHS offered the communiity a free ride on it, this was 1963. The rest is history & we're "hooked". I've lived in Kodiak now for 44 yrs., we make 2-5 trips in a year on the AMHS. With the Tustemena still out of service, it leaves a lot to be desired to travel using the Kennicott. A recent trip leaving Kodiak on a Friday morning, driving all the way to Anchorage, put me there @ midnight. Only because I asked to be placed so I could be on one of the first lifts. With such a large load, I could have been on the car deck waiting for over 2 hours. I left Anchorage around 5 p.m. Saturday, driving back to Homer for the night, catching the ferry back Sunday morning. This time of year with USCG personal transferring, the loads are huge. I was on the car deck in Kodiak over 2 hours waiting to get off. I had 2 coolers with fresh & frozen meats, needing to be tended to, once home. We really need a roll on, roll off dock to eliminate long waits. The schedules should be adjusted for the busier time when there is the transfering happening & tourists with motor homes. It's like "take it or leave it" attitude to us when it comes to the ferry service.Submitted: July 15, 2017
As the Port Operations Manager for the Port of Valdez, I spend most of my time at an office located just a short walk from the Valdez Ferry Terminal. I can tell you, especially in the summer, a large portion of my time is spent fielding questions regarding the ferry service, schedule, vehicle restrictions, and ticket pricing and availability. Because I so value the ferry service connecting Valdez to Whittier and Cordova, I always take the time to work with these individuals. I see a great loss of potential revenue for AMHS in the number of people that come to my office. Despite the age of technology we live in, many travelers to not get cell service throughout Alaska , or have trouble finding wifi hotspots to do the research and make necessary reservations. In marketing a product, especially in regards to transportation, I see predictability/availability of service as the key ingredient for success. The funding situation has made it clear that further staffing at the ferry terminal is not an option. One possible solution would be to install touch screen reservation and ticketing kiosks in a weather proof entry room of understaffed terminals. This would allow visitors to view the sailing schedules, make reservations, and even provide payment via credit card - rather than being turned away to find a computer at the local library or elsewhere, often causing them to turn to another form of transportation.
From a personal standpoint, the cost of ferry service is much to high for my family to justify traveling to Anchorage via Whittier. Instead, we take the drive, despite the fact that we would rather take the ferry. My input regarding cost is brief and simple - I realize you have heard this one ;-)
I was extremely interested and impressed by the AMHS Reform presentation given in Valdez yesterday and look forward to collaborating with you as this process moves forward. There is a viable solution and we are rapidly moving towards it.Submitted: July 14, 2017
Open the bars on the ferry - manage them better (no keg beer): prove that the State of Alaska doesn't lose money in one of the most profitable businesses in the country.
Lease the gift shops for a flat fee to someone with experience and drive to make money (not sit and knit or read behind the counter).
Listen to what the customer wants instead of what some shore-side government worker who never rides the ferries THINKS would be good for the system.
And lastly: quit sinking money into the Columbia unless you intend to use it for legislative housing. The ship loves the dock - she doesn't have a record of running without break downs and bent shafts. Sell the lemon!Submitted: July 14, 2017
AMHS is losing revenue with the higher prices now in place. Our loyal and avid customers have now come to the point where they are saying enough is enough. I hear them loud and clear and so should you. They complain with statements, “we love the ferries and want to use them, but the cost is driving us away as it is cheaper to fly and rent a vehicle”.
Our ferries benefit all Alaskans and ALL Alaskans need to support this vital service. Be it land endowments, gas tax or road toll. Road toll's are used throughout the lower states to pay for bridge's, road constructions and needed improvements. This needs to be apply to state ferries
AMHS needs to service ports in Alaska first and foremost. Let Canadian ferries transit to Ketchikan. US and Canadian custom agents could switch rolls.
Roll back your prices to the 2013 level. Bring back the bar’s and gift shop’s keep your customers happy.
Submitted: July 13, 2017