Ferry study proposals extended to April 2



The Department of Transportation extended the deadline for a “request for proposal” to come up with options for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The original deadline of March 11 brought only one respondent, but other entities said they would respond if the timeline was more than the 10-day window they were given. The new deadline is April 2.

The winner of the RFP will provide a detailed report by Oct. 15 recommending changes to the Alaska Marine Highway System — privatizing, selling it off, or “identify potential reduction of the state’s financial obligation and/or liability as related to the AMHS.”

The state’s fare structure for the ferries currently only recovers 35 percent of the cost of running the service. Low passenger and vehicle ridership has made the AMHS an increasingly expensive system to operate, with the state subsidizing per-passenger trips at $4.78 per mile.

The Alaska Marine Highway System could keep the ferries afloat by charging passengers the actual cost of running them.

The governor’s budget, which cut ferry spending by 75 percent, has brought howls of protests from coastal communities, and prompted Rep. Louise Stutes to have the House Majority press office produce a Facebook video that romanticizes the ferry-bound lifestyle.

The video, paid for with State funds, includes wistful music, footage of disabled ferry passengers, and an up-close vignette of a child who is crying about the loss of the ferry system. A voice asks, “It is so easy to take away from us. Why?”

Watch Rep. Louise Stutes’ ferry video here.



  1. Please try to not be so flippant regarding the marine highway system for coastal Alaska. We depend on this highway to get to the mainland and it’s just as important for us as the highway is for thousands each day who travel from Wasilla to Anchorage and back. I would never have traveled to Anchorage last spring and purchased a side-by-side and trailer if it weren’t for the marine highway. Anchorage benefits greatly from the ferry system access we have from Kodiak.

    Here’s a thought. Maybe we should have a toll on all highways in Alaska to help offset the toll we pay to ride the ferry on the marine highway.

    I enjoy most of your comments and news stories and agree with many of them. However, it is getting tiring to feel like a second class citizen from you and others for supporting the marine highway.

    • Thinking Alaskans understand that some, only some, places in Alaska need ferry service, Kodiak is certainly among them. The reality is that my road from Anchorage to wherever requires about a TWO CENTS per vehicle mile State subsidy and your “road” from Kodiak to wherever requires about a FIVE DOLLARS per vehicle mile subsidy. Actually that is the systemwide cost, the Southwest System is much more expensive than, say, Northern Lynn Canal so yours costs even more. I’d pay a toll on the Glenn or the Seward of 2 cents a mile, but I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t pay a $5/mile toll in addition to your ticket price for a trip from Kodiak to Homer.

      Unless you’re Coast Guard, you’ve made a choice to live in Kodiak; why should I pay for your choice? For many years I made a choice to live in Juneau; like Kodiak only accessible by plane or ferry. I chose to give myself about a 25% raise by moving to Anchorage and enjoying the better access and lower cost of living.

      Why did you buy your side-by-side and trailer in Anchorage rather than Kodiak? Whatever your answer, the real answer was that it was cheaper in Anchorage and you could bring it back to Kodiak on the heavily subsidized ferry. That is a lot of the game in Southeast as well; the ferry competes with private freight lines to bring goods to Southeast communities. There are persistent rumors that the AMHS was pressured to reduce service to Sitka and other ports so that residents would shop locally rather than shop the “big boxes” in Juneau. This is what happens when a service or commodity is delivered based on politics rather than the market. Whoever sells side-by-sides and trailers in Kodiak probably had to pay Matson’s Jones Act, union labor driven freight rates to get their inventory. So, instead, you took the heavily subsidized ride to Anchorage, had some fun in the city, and brought it back home on the heavily subsidized ferry.

  2. “The state’s fare structure for the ferries currently only recovers 35 percent of the cost of running the service.” I think that percentage beats the hell out of the People Mover.

  3. I love all the “down with subsidies “ jargon I hear on this thing . In the U S 18 states gave more in federal taxes than they received of those 14 were blue states . Alaska was third from the top on receiving more federal aid than it paid behind Mississippi and New Mexico two states that I’m sure are “right to work “and the pesky unions have been abolished. I appreciate the effort people make by moving to Anchorage and becoming less dependent on government subsidy . How about taking it a step further and moving to California then you’d actually be part of the solution . What road makes Money ? These hard core conservatives would be laughable except this clown of a governor is doing a road show for the most powerful super PAC in the country. I wonder if the Koch Brothers are gonna have to fight with Houston over who gets Alaska.

    • You’re simply spreading a leftist lie. First, Mississippi and New Mexico have large minority populations dependent on federal social welfare spending, as does Alaska. Second, the federal government has a huge presence in Alaska for it own purposes. Alaska Natives are federal dependents, not Alaska dependents, yet the State provides for their education and for much of their social welfare needs. About a third of the Alaska landmass is federal land and the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies have a huge presence here to operate and maintain that federal property. The military has a huge presence in Alaska that while it may provide some protection for Alaska also makes Alaska an attractive target, yet the reason the military presence is here is not to protect Alaska but rather to protect the Lower 48 by making the US forward edge of the battle as far as possible from the Lower 48. The fact that the old Nike missiles that once guarded the military installations in Anchorage and Fairbanks were nuclear armed tells you all you need to know; the US was willing to sacrifice the citizens of Anchorage and Fairbanks to protect its facilities. There is a huge USCG presence here and it does fish an Alaskan out of the water from time to time, but mostly it is to protect and regulate a largely Seattle based commercial fishing industry and to protect and regulated the shipping lanes from The Orient to the West Coast.

      The Koch Brothers don’t even make the top 20 in contributions to political causes; pride of place there goes to leftist groups and especially to leftist public employee unions. What would make Alaska better is for people like you to go to California where you would fit in better.

  4. Remember….Remember when making out a budget for Southeast Alaska, Kodiak, Cordova, Valdez, Whittier, Seward and Homer that the federal government’s budget to the State of Alaska for ALL transportation is 90% of the cost. Subsequently, the ferry system gets a portion of that and there is no turning back nor should there be any fear mongering by the dumb politicians trying to make a statement to get themselves noticed, including the Dunleavy staff and team. The ferry system will be there for the transportation of all that need it in those areas.

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