The ferry system is essential to the transportation in and out of Gustavus and our community would greatly suffer without it as would the other communities connected by the Marine Highway. If it would make an impact, please raise the prices. We would use the ferry no matter the cost. It is essential to us rural Alaskans who live in places without medical facilities or roads to reliably be able to get into Juneau for appointments with our cars.Submitted: September 27, 2017
My suggestions for amhs are as follow:
The ferries should line up their schedules so you can make connections on other ships. If the IFA gets in at 1115am into Ketchikan but the Kennicott leaves to head north at 11am you have to go to Ketchikan a day early and spend a lot more money on lodging and meals just to catch the boat. There is no reason why the ferry can't leave just a little later. Also, connections with other amhs ferries. The Leconte leave jnu at 7am, other ferries from south get in right when the Leconte leaves not allowing passengers to make that connection and head to northern ports. Allowing people to get off of one boat and get on another would be helpful. More amenities on the ferries with long runs would be nice also. The Columbia has laundry services, but the Kennicott does not. Some of the passengers are on the boat for as many as 5-7 days and that is a long time. Passengers always ask for internet. Charge people, they will pay. Also, hiking the prices of fares up only makes people go away. If fares are lowered then people will actually want to ride the boats and have a good time rather than fly and putting their cars on the barge. Add a bar on the Bellingham run. Or lease the bar out to a brewery.Submitted: September 22, 2017
Kofi is a cafeteria worker on the ferry and deserves special recognition for his helpful ways and good demeanorSubmitted: September 18, 2017
Affordable transportation without flight. Nice people working for us. Get to meet and network with AlaskanSubmitted: September 18, 2017
Re: generating more operating revenue:
1) Consider the Ferry as a public utility and as such, similar to the by-pass mail system, parts of Alaska "take the hit" for the good of the whole State functioning successfully. Or, 2) Perhaps the communities served (and this includes the SWest run) contribute additional earmarked funding. 3) Consider designing future ferries to reflect the increased numbers in cargo load, and the decreased numbers in passenger load. 4) Provide sufficient marketing/advertising (eg to AARP, Outside Magazine, or International Travelers) and provide better scheduling options as well as MORE AFFORDABLE/competetive prices for passengers. 5) Diversify use -- consider bidding out the bars to private enterprise as a money maker, or setting asides certain dates when the ferries can be rented out for lavish weddings/events, or offer an in-port ferry as a training site for State government, or use the Taku as a downtown Jnu site for legislative housing. These are just a sampling of diversification/creative uses of a valuable Alaskan resource...Submitted: September 14, 2017
Headed to the end of the season with a migration of snow birds, some locals and lot of tourists headed South. The AK reform project poses a question “What can be done to generate more operating revenue while still providing affordable service?” That begs the question is the system affordable for Alaskans? The tourist will spend whatever it takes to come to Alaska but the ordinary Alaskan might not have that disposable income but needs a trip for Medical or groceries,etc. of course the AK business owner benefits from the tourist because they will come no matter what may be less but always some. The system is the Greyhound of the sea paid for by taxpayers in all states but some of our operating cost are from the Alaska state budget. We must take our state residents interests to heart by reduced rates with convenient schedules. It can be run with better efficiencies in costs and run without cutting jobs. Job cutting is an economic killer,(voodoo economics) trickling down to every community in the state not just SE. The key to greater revenue is greater access for all but a heed toward the best interests of Alaskans while balancing the needs of public transport.Submitted: September 14, 2017
My family used the ferry from Bellingham to Juneau Aug 5th this was one of the best trips ever don't change anything.Submitted: September 11, 2017
I'm a lifelong Alaskan (61 years) but only since 2015 have I begun riding the AMHS. My wife and I wish we had done so years ago. We love the ferries. We think they are one of the best things the State of Alaska has done for its citizens. We urge state leaders to maintain the ferry system's funding.Submitted: September 10, 2017
I find it interesting that the first bulleted question is “What can be done to generate more operating revenue while still providing affordable service?” That question is based on the assumption that the ferry is affordable, while in reality it is being priced out of existence. In September, granted last minute, end of season, you can take a cruise from Victoria to Whittier for $150 less than you can ride the ferry as a walk on passenger from Bellingham to Whittier. Where the cost of the cruise includes a room and food, the ferry does not. You can fly roundtrip from Seattle to Anchorage roundtrip and rent a car for a week for much less than the cost of taking a vehicle on the ferry from Bellingham to Whittier. Travel between Whittier and Homer costs $662 for a 16 foot vehicle with driver or you can just drive for the cost of fuel in 3 to 4 hours. If you live in Sitka and want to take your car to Juneau to make a Cosco run, the roundtrip will cost you $408, if you live in Petersburg and would like to do the same thing, expect to pay $526.
If you are wondering why ridership is down, look at the prices. I have talked to many people who have told me that they would have loved to have taken the ferry but they were unable to justify the expense. I realize that the Marine Highway is expensive to operate, but it is also important to remember that it is the only road system in the state that brings in any of its operating costs, with the exception of the Whittier tunnel (but much of the revenue brought in by the tunnel fees is from ferry passengers).
Instead of promoting ridership and the ferry experience, amenities have gone away. The idea that the bars could not bring in revenue is ludicrous. I believe it was a tactic to do away with PCN numbers and give the appearance of cutting labor costs, instead it has taken away a revenue source and has had a negative effect on passenger experience.
The Alaska Class(less) ferries will continue to take away from the ferry’s practicality and appeal. Those ferries may work alright for the Haines/Skagway/Juneau run, but the idea of those ships replacing mainliners feels like yet another way to sabotage the Marine Highway. They basically give away the revenue from rooms and food (neither of which are cheap) and the idea of operating as day ships coming from Prince Rupert will further cut ridership. If you want to get to any port other than Ketchikan you are not going to want to disembark, get a hotel room and wait for your ride to continue. It will not be worth the time or money and ridership will further decrease.
The Marine Highway is essential for many coastal communities, while it also brings travelers to the rail belt. I urge you to look harder at ways to increase ridership rather than cutting services.
Possible ideas as to how to increase ridership:
Lower prices for walk on passengers
Offer discounts for last minute bookings on under booked segments
Possibly do something like Alaska Air’s 49ers club and give various discounts to Alaskans
Submitted: September 07, 2017
I am responding to the postcard-sized request distributed on the Malaspina this summer. I am a "displaced" Alaskan, have used the ferries since the days of the old Chilkat between Juneau and Haines, and now travel by ferry once a year. These are y suggestions in response to the above questions.
It was a big mistake to shut down the bars on the ferries. Bars are big moneymakers, and they were also congenial social spaces for conversation and music. Why has the state adopted prohibition?
There is inadequate publicity about the ferries. I talk with people about the ferries frequently, and my conclusion s that most people outside don't even know that they exist, let alone that they are a good alternative to cruise ships (smaller, less expensive, friendlier, you get to meet real Alaskans, you can get on and off at different towns, you can set up your tent--these are just some of the attractions that good publicity should include. People who wouldn't go to Alaska if they thought the had no options but the cruise ships would reconsider if they knew about the ferries.
There does seem to be a need for big-time maintenance. We were on the Columbia in July 2015 when it sat in Auke Bay for three days. It was astonishing, considering the importance of the ferries to the economy, that we werewaiting for parts and personnel to be sent up from Seattle! What kind of commitment does that represent? I want to add that the personnel on the Columbia were wonderful during this delay, no complaints there.
Finally, allow me to suggest that Alaska would really benefit from restoring the income tax. Not only the ferries, but other infrastructure and programs--think about it, people--it's possible to have a fair tax that will support the things that make Alaska truly great.Submitted: September 05, 2017