Alaskans — particularly in the Southeast region that includes Ketchikan and Metlakatla — will have something to say about it.
The Alaska Marine Highway System’s proposed May-to-September schedule has been made public.
The schedule is based on expected funding, ferry service demand and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s draft budget.
This year the novel coronavirus affects the schedule. Due to COVID-19 and Canada’s resulting closed borders, the schedule doesn’t include ferry service in and out of Prince Rupert. That could change, depending on whether Canada reopens during the summer.
Aside from the schedule itself, the ferry system is collecting information about transportation needs for special events, such as a Southeast sports or musical event for which the ferry system could provide transportation for the region’s participants.
But, again, the virus might affect whether such events take place this year.
The proposed ferry schedule is online at http://alaska.gov/go/Z9GC. Written comments regarding the schedule may be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to 907-228-6874. The deadline for such comments is Feb. 7.
Then, a teleconference at which comments may be heard and schedule adjustments considered will be at 10 a.m. Feb. 8 for the Southeast schedules. To participate, the number is 1-515-604-9000; access code 279613.
It’s doubtful Southeast will be silent when it comes to the ferry schedule. Community leaders, as well as passengers and others who depend on the ferry service, are likely to comment.
This will be the first opportunity in 2021. But, others will come as the state Legislature and Dunleavy craft a state budget this spring. Ultimately, it will illustrate the future operations of the system.