The Alaska Marine Highway System is rethinking part of its Lynn Canal summer sailing schedule.
The Malaspina follows a roundtrip route connecting Juneau, Haines and Skagway Monday through Saturday. But on Sundays, it only sails north, and overnights in Skagway.
Ferry chief Mike Neussl says it’s a question of logistics.
“The reason we do that is because I need berth space for the Columbia to tie up early Monday morning in Juneau when it comes north out of Bellingham,” he says.
Neussl says no one objected last year when the schedule went out for public comment.
But since then, Haines and Skagway mayors have asked for a change.
“[There are] concerns from the communities up there that there’s not a roundtrip every day and there’s no southbound leg at the end of the weekend,” he says.
Neussl updated the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board about the situation at a recent meeting. He told members he’s committed to solving the problem.
“My scheduling staff and I are looking at next year’s schedule for some ways to try to avoid that and eliminate that from happening. I haven’t actually seen that plan yet. My scheduler is still coming up with options and ideas. And we will be looking at that shortly and that will go out for the next public comment period,” Neussl says.
Any changes would go into place with the summer 2013 schedule.
The ferry LeConte also overnights in Hoonah to make space for another ship at Juneau’s ferry terminal. No plans are in the works to change that schedule.
- Heli-skiing has long been a controversial topic in Haines. The interests of the industry often clash with people who live near heliports and don’t want the noise disturbing their peace and quiet. But there’s another group that’s impacted by helicopter noise: mountain goats.
- In the Northwest Arctic, caribou hunting has been contentious for years. Alaska’s largest herd continues to decline while tensions have emerged between rural subsistence users and outside hunters.
- From the Aleutian island of Akutan to the arctic village of Kiana, 13 communities have been crowned champions of a rural energy competition. The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that it will help these communities cut their energy use by 15 percent by training local utility providers.
- It’s costing 14 percent more to take the ferry to and from the Lower 48. The higher fare is part of another round of tariff increases aimed at boosting income and equalizing rates across all routes.