Tuesday, July 20, 2021

With US/Canada border set to reopen, a timely moment for a review of the Alaska Ferry Winter plans

The MV Malaspina at dock in Prince Rupert in 2018

The opportunity for travellers to once again transit across the US/Canada border will arrive in early August, the Federal government announcing its plans yesterday, a reopening that will be available to those Americans who have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

As we outlined yesterday, while the border may open next month, the gates in Prince Rupert to the transit North will remain closed for the time being, with the Alaska Marine Highway having suspended its service to Prince Rupert in the fall of 2019.

The reasons for the suspension mostly related to terminal issues in Prince Rupert, along with some heavy cost cutting by the Alaskan government for the service.

Still, since that point, the AMHS has continued to at least keep an option of service to Prince Rupert in its planning, awaiting further guidance as to when the outstanding issues may be resolved.

This month the Alaskans have embarked on their planning for a winter schedule and are now accepting feedback from travellers towards their plans.

As part of the consultation, the AMHS has provided a collection of their Draft Schedules through the Winter months, and like those over the course of the last two years, there is still some space reserved for Prince Rupert. 

Though as has been the case over that period, no actual sailing dates have been assigned to the Fairview Terminal location.

Those interested in offering comments towards the planning can contact the Alaska government at dot.amhs.comments@alaska.gov

The deadline for contributions is set for Tuesday, July 27th.

The early reviews from those in Southeast Alaska make for much concern over the many gaps for a number of communities that are found from the proposed document, as well as the level of funding that the State has provided to the AMHS for the service.

With the border closed for as long as it has been, there has been little in the way of local discussion as to the topic of the AMHS service to the community and the impact of its suspension on there region. 

Now that the border is reopening, it may be a timely moment for municipal, provincial and federal officials on our side of the A/B line to outline the status of the Prince Rupert Terminal and what the prospects for future service may be.

The Ferry to and from Alaska made for an important part of the local tourism strategy not only in Prince Rupert but across the northwest in those years when the vessels arrived and departed from Fairview, having some idea what the plan moving forward may be would be well received we imagine by tourism providers in the region.

More notes related to Ferry Transportation on the North Coast can be found here.

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