It is so targeted to tourists that we locals are frustrated that the high costs and inability to get a summer reservation or even find a seat in the lounge when we do travel discourages locals summer vacation travel. 1)Stop telling the legislature that the fares are consistent with AK Airlines. Only true for passenger rate, and misleading as the trip to PR Rupert/Bellingham adds food and stateroom; 2)the auto fare to those ports in winter is unreasonable. Last two winter trips we took to Pr Rupert each had 3 cars on it...reduce the frequency to Bellingham and Pr Rupert in the winter. We felt money was wasted with full crews and only a handful of passengers and so few cars. We traveled south for medical treatment, but would have adjusted to the ferry schedule if it ran less often. We chose Pr Rupert over the high cost to Bellingham, risking the bad roads. (Headed to Texas.) 3)When running in the winter out of state, lower fares will increase number of passengers & autos, food and stateroom purchases...you are going anyway why not sell space at a reduced rate? 3 cars at $2K or 12 cars at $1500? 4)Winter rates for unaccompanied vehicles should match or be slightly lower than what the barge charges from Seattle. that increases revenue without the work of food/staterooms. 5)the food quality has declined year around (just returned from a summer trip using ports Skagway & Haines and Juneau; appears to be a prep/process problem over freshness. From now on, we will carry our own and heat it in the microwave instead of buying - suggest fewer menu options and better prep/payment process is needed. A huge line up with only one cook, one server, and one to collect payment...food was undercooked, then cold by the time we made it thru the line to pay. Perhaps a second line to pay for uncooked items. 6) Also, enforce the rule that CREW cannot get the best and first pickings of the specials unless they pay. Specials are the highest priced and should be left for those paying. I was second in line when cafeteria opened and the special was gone! Fed to crew, per the cook! Person in front of me and two behind me planned to buy the special. What remained was dried up and looked gross from being prepared hours before opening, and we all passed in favor of a bowl of canned chili. Food prep, delivery, and payment processes need improving which will increase purchased food/revenues. 7)UGH - the legislature! So frustrating that they don't see it as a highway vs a money producer. Other state highways do not need to produce a profit. My best suggestion is to elect new and get the old legislators out! ESSENTIAL service is at least weekly throughout the SE communities. Those are relatively short trips, but at least quality food service with a very limited menu should be offered and would increase sales. While initially I opposed the fast ferry as it isn't viable in winter, I changed my mind and another one operating in the summer would boost use by locals in the summer and potentially offer more trips. Unfortunately, while it might increase revenue, it also means a huge upfront expense when the legislators don't support what we already have. I love traveling the ferry. I worry it will go away - thanks for letting me give suggestions.Submitted: August 29, 2017
I believe the ferry to be essential for Alaskan communities,residents and tourism.
Revenue could be raised by re-opening the bars on the ferries ( could just be beer and wine and maybe one hot alcoholic drink like coffee with Bailey's or hot chocolate with whiskey to reduce cost of inventory ).The bar could also be used to offer hot drinks and cookies etc .
I am and always have been in favor of judiciously using Permanent Fund Money to support Alaskan Infrastructure including the Ferry System.
Fuel economy could be increased by reducing speed by even just 1 knot/hr and making up time by finding ways to increase docking speed or slightly reducing time in ports.
Analyzing if personnel could be reduced without compromising safety and comfort.Submitted: August 27, 2017
1)Sell advertisement on the M/V. You have a captive audience.
2)Let Alaskans have more ownership of the ferry--IE--Like the Alaska 49 Club on Alaska Airlines--As it is now, there is no way for Alaska to feel special about the ferry system.
3)Create a loyalty program--for frequent users--
4)Play more movies---it should be constant--
Submitted: August 24, 2017
I've been saying for years we need forward thinking and if we had employed just that, we would be well on our way to major cost savings by having switched to flex fuels as in LNG or CNG fuels combined with diesel in whatever (if any) ratio required.
We're swimming in cheap natural gas, yet somehow insist on being extorted by traditional and high-cost fuel suppliers to run ALL state equipment fleets. Hellooo!
Just look at Norway which has converted their coastal merchant marine fleets to natural gas AND electrical on shorter runs.
Where is the leadership? Where is the captain and crew, the foresight and dedication to advance our antiquated thinking and infrastructure into the 21st century now that nearly 1/5 of it is gone?Submitted: August 23, 2017
My partner and I recently enjoyed an amazing visit to your state that would not have been possible without the AMHS. I am writing this comment to share with you that we had an exceptional experience with the crew aboard the LeConte. All staff we encountered from the purser, vehicle loading staff, kitchen staff and the captain provided us with exceptional service and went out of their way to make our trip more enjoyable as kayakers who were en-route to Gustavus. Thank you so much AMHS and the staff of the LeConte: we will be back again and hope that our friends and family will enjoy the same service in the years to come!Submitted: August 20, 2017
Some suggestions would be to charge non Alaskan residents more for the use of your ferry system. People will pay for it to visit your beautiful state!
As much as I have enjoyed all the meals aboard the Laconte I would suggest closing the meal prep facilities and replace it with self serve options and if it would not cost much more, use the space for seats.
Essential to me would be to set up basic access and egress to islands on at least a bi-weekly basis.
Submitted: August 20, 2017
I think it would be nice if the ferries would share the time they spend in Ketchikan with Wrangell and Petersburg. I feel that that other communities have as much to show as Ketchikan. It was also interesting to see the bar lounge just shut down. They should make it into something else like a place where you could work all night with lights to work by.Submitted: August 19, 2017
Increased ridership would help the revenue stream for the AMHS. That depends on a reliable system with schedules that can be counted on. For Southwest Alaska the ferry has been non existent this year, which has disrupted many lives of residents and potential tourists. Residents commonly 'walk-on' without reservations and so the number of cancelled reservations may look smaller than the actual number of riders lost because of the delay of the Tustumena this year.
One suggestion to increase both resident and tourist travel on the southwest run is to provide a connection to the rail system. Try just one trip in the summer to southwest that begins and ends in a city with a rail connection, say Seward or Whittier. I predict that particular Aleutian Chain trip would be packed. That connection could help politically, making the AMHS more important to communities on the rail system.
We are thankful the Tusty is starting on the first of three SW scheduled trips to complete the 2017 season next week. However, the replacement vessel project should move forward ASAP, to avoid another disruptive SW ferry season like 2017, anytime soon.Submitted: August 18, 2017
It has been made extremely clear the need of a change in our current ferry system functions. The ferry system has been a huge part of my life growing up in Cold Bay, Alaska. It serves as a crucial link between Southwest Communities. There is a strong concern for the future of the service in our region. Important focuses our community would like to see are stability, consistency and an increase in services to the communities. There is a lot of potential for the ferry service in Cold Bay. The popularity in eco-tourism and want for authentic travel experiences is growing exponentially. I firmly believe that if we had a dependable system in this region we could truly develop our visitor industry. Cold Bay is home to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, which has always been a huge attraction for the Southwest ferry visitors. Each year the refuge tours have been easily filled. I have always advocated to anyone interested in visiting the Aleutians to take the ferry because of the authentic experience. Our Native people originated in this region by traveling by the seas. There is no better way of experiencing the Aleutians than by the waterways. Another huge problem that the ferry has been a connecting link for is our transportation of residents between communities. The current costs for air travel are extremely high and also unreliable. Grant Aviation is currently the service for the Cold Bay site and their service this entire summer has been poor at best. Some families rely on the ferry for their summer visits to extended family in other surrounding communities.Submitted: August 18, 2017
We recently took a month long trip to AK. Two of the weeks were spent in the SE communities of Haines, Juneau, Sitka to Bellingham. We traveled on the AK Marine Highway. It was a fantastic trip and one that no other transportation service provides. Yes there are cruses, but they only spend a few hours in any given location. We wanted to spend (and did) much more time in the communities we visited. As a result we spent over $3,000 dollars in SE AK. I am certain that these tourism $ help support many jobs, both in the communities and on the boats. Reducing the number of trips to communities or drastically increasing the price for transportation would have negative impacts on the tourism $ going to these communities. I hope to be back in SE AK to visit other communities.Submitted: August 17, 2017