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.