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Congratulations go to the Inter-Island Ferry Authority, which on Feb. 20 welcomed aboard its 800,000th passenger since beginning operations in January 2002.
The official 800,000th passenger, Brian Hibbs of Craig, stepped aboard the IFA ferry Stikine in Ketchikan for the voyage across Clarence Strait to the IFA’s Prince of Wales Island terminal at Hollis.
It’s a route that an IFA ferry travels daily, weather permitting and with exceptions on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a vital service; remarkable in its consistency and in its adherence to the vision of the IFA founders who sought to establish regular, reliable transportation for passengers and vehicles between Prince of Wales and Ketchikan.
Formed in 1997 by the POW communities of Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay and Coffman Cove, along with Wrangell and Petersburg, the IFA now also includes Hydaburg among its member communities. Petersburg withdrew in 2012, according to IFA information.
The IFA board of directors and management have had to steer through some difficult economic waters over time. Keeping a transportation system running through the ups and downs of economic cycles and external factors such as fluctuating fuel prices hasn’t been easy. But they’ve managed to continue service on its main route, while also filling in for the Alaska Marine Highway System with service between Ketchikan and Annette Island when the AMHS ferry Lituya is undergoing maintenance.
Residents of Prince of Wales, Ketchikan and Annette Island know they can rely on the familiar green, red and white IFA ferries for their transportation needs.
Again, we congratulate the IFA on reaching the 800,000-passenger mark, We’re looking forward to celebrating more IFA transportation achievements in the future.