Encouraging ferry news comes from the Inter-Island Ferry Authority that operates daily between Ketchikan and the port of Hollis on Prince of Wales Island.
This past week brought the release of a new study — ”Alaska’s Inter-Island Ferry Authority by the Numbers 2020” — prepared by Rain Coast Data.
The 12-page report highlights the IFA operations, who it serves and how it affects economic activity on Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan.
Among the numbers are tallies of passengers and vehicles carried during 2019 — 44,200 and 10,000, respectively. Those passengers were an estimated 2,900 tourists, 3,100 students and 1,530 patients.
The IFA shipped about 2.1 million pounds of seafood valued at more than $12 million during 2019, according to the report, which estimated that the IFA created 278 direct or indirect jobs on POW during the year.
Overall, the report estimates that the IFA generated about $46.4 million in total economic activity during 2019.
The dayboat system runs with farebox revenue paying for about 79% of IFA’s operating costs, according to the report.
More detail is provided within the colorful document, which is clearly intended to focus on the value that the IFA service brings to the communities it serves. The points are well taken — and reminds us again of the value of ferry transportation.
We’re also reminded of how the Prince of Wales Island communities of Craig, Klawock, Thorne Bay and Coffman Cove — as well as Wrangell and Petersburg — work to form the IFA in 1997 with the goal of improving ferry service in southern Southeast Alaska.
IFA service launched in 2002 with the ferry Prince of Wales operating between Hollis and Ketchikan. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but the IFA’s record of providing reliable, affordable service through the years has been remarkable.
The new report — available from the IFA website at https://interislandferry.com/public-announcements/ — is good reading, and good news.