Alaska ferry system plans more fare hikes

The Alaska Marine Highway System plans its next round of fare changes to start May 1, when the new summer schedule begins.

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AMHS spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow said it’s the second year of a five-year effort to equalize ticket prices.

“What we’re trying to do is bring similar distance fares into a similar price across the entire system. So you’re getting what you pay for, no matter where you are in the system,” Woodrow said.

Most fares are being raised by only a few dollars, as shown on the AMHS reservations website. A few are dropping.

Some examples, based on rates for one adult passenger:

  • Juneau-to-Ketchikan will be $4 more (from $122 to $126).
  • Kodiak-Homer is up $2 (from $83 to $85).
  • Bellingham, Washington-to-Skagway, one of the longer routes, will increase $13 (from $451 to $464).
  • Cordova-Whittier will cost $3 less (from $84 to $81).

The new May-to-September schedule was released Wednesday.

Sailings are actually up for  June through August, the busier months. But Woodrow said they’re down for the next full budget year, which begins in July.

“Where we’ve been able to reduce the frequency of sailings has been more in the shoulder season,” Woodrow said. “Late April, early May and then late September [is] where we’ve kind of reduced just a week here or there for each ship.”

He said the summer schedule was developed around the governor’s proposed budget. It calls for a 5 percent cut in unrestricted general fund spending.

The Legislature could further reduce the marine highway budget. Woodrow said any such cuts would come out of next fall, winter and spring’s schedules.

Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell.

He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues.

He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.

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