Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mayor Brain to update community on status of Alaska Ferry plans in weeks to come

With Alaska reviewing their options for their Marine Highway Service,
Mayor Lee Brain plans to update Prince Rupert residents on the most
recent information as part of an upcoming Council session

Prince Rupert residents may get a clearer picture of some of the uncertainty surrounding the status of the Alaska Marine Highway Service by this time next month, with Mayor Lee Brain promising to deliver a community update on the topic at a future Council session.

Mr. Brain's plans were announced as a follow up to a question from Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa, who had made note of some of the concern in this community about the current study in place over the future of the north-south connection between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan.

As we have outlined a few times in the past, the AMHS has been caught up in some of the fiscal concerns of the State of Alaska, with Governor Mike Dunleavy having commissioned a report as to the options that the State has when it comes to its iconic transportation network.

The state has provided funding for AMHS routes through the summer, but a day of reckoning may be coming once the summer tourism season is over.

As part of a cost saving measure in 2018, the Alaska Marine Highway announced that it would suspend its service to Prince Rupert through the early part of 2019, with the Ferry terminal in Prince Rupert remaining quiet through January and February.

This year, in addition to the uncertainty of the AMHS routes, the service has been plagued by a number of vessel repair issues, with a number of ships in and out of repair so far this year.

The Dunleavy administration also dismissed one of the services Executive Directors this spring, though the departure of Shirley Maquardt, may be tied more to Alaskan politics, as she had been selected for the position by the previous Governor Bill Walker.

There has been some significant backlash to Governor Dunleavy's review since it was announced, with many community policy makers rather skeptical of what it may achieve, while remaining determined to try and protect the service level that they currently have.

In his comments for Council of Monday, Mayor Brain outlined how he has been actively working on the topic, making note of his close efforts with both Alaska and British Columbia officials and once he has assembled more information that he would be providing for a community update.

You can review some of the latest developments on the AMHS file from our Transportation archive.

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