Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Alaska giving consideration to sale of AMHS vessel Taku as part of service review

Prince Rupert harbour watchers
may have seen the last of the AMHS
vessel Taku

(photo from the AMHS website)
A ferry most familiar to those on the North Coast may soon be on the auction block, the State of Alaska which has been exploring a range of options to reduce the cost of its AMHS fleet of ships, is giving consideration to selling the vessel Taku.

That ship, introduced into the AMHS fleet back in 1963, has in recent years been tasked with the Prince Rupert to Ketchikan run, though in recent months it has been removed from service for maintenance and may remain tied up for the entire year of 2016 if it doesn't go on the market.

The prospect of reducing the size of the AMHS fleet was one of the discussion points during the recent Southeast Conference held in Prince Rupert in mid-September.

As the service has sought to reduce its expenses, some of the approach has been to reduce the frequency of service, a chart from the AMHS annual report shows how significant that reduction has been on Prince Rupert, with a drop in departures from 146 to 97 per year since 2005.

Departure numbers from the AMHS annual report for 2014
In passenger levels, through 2014 the Prince Rupert to Ketchikan run was at 19.5 per cent capacity for passengers with a count of 7,343, for vehicles the service was at 47.9 per cent capacity with 3,218 vehicles loaded during the 97 trips.

The prospect of selling or leaving the Taku tied up either for 2016 or permanently, leaves the AMHS with only two vessels, Matanuska and the Kennicott, that are internationally rated to travel between Canadian and American ports.

Some background on the decisions that the State is facing on the Alaska Marine Highway System can be found below:

AMHS may explore selling Taku
Alaska Ferry Service faces steep cuts next summer

In September we outlined that the local tour provider West Coast Launch is giving some consideration to offering a passenger only service between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan during the summer. Which could prove to be a way of some of the challenges to transportation north that budget cuts may be forcing the AMHS to consider.

For more items related to Ferry Services on the North Coast see our archive page here.

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