Alaska city facing ferry cutback considers private service
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A small Alaska city struggling with reduced state ferry service is considering using a private vessel, but the cost is problematic, officials said.
Angoon held a community meeting Nov. 15 to discuss chartering a private vessel for transport north to Juneau, The Juneau Empire reported Wednesday.
Angoon officials proposed chartering a catamaran owned by Goldbelt Inc., but large numbers of tickets need to be purchased to keep prices affordable.
Supplies arrived in the city on Admiralty Island each week using the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry before service was cut back due to state budget cuts, officials said.
The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities announced Nov. 4 that due to high vessel repair costs it planned to cancel ferry service to Angoon, Tenakee, Pelican, and Gustavus and cut back service to Haines, Skagway and Hoonah.
Only 18 passengers were registered for a Nov. 24 Goldbelt catamaran trip from Angoon to Juneau, making the cost of a single ticket more than $300, Angoon Mayor Joshua Bowen said in a Nov. 16 social media post.
“We need more people to bring the price down,” Bowen wrote. “The City and the (Angoon Community Association) have expressed a willingness to subsidize part of the catamaran charter cost, but we can’t decide on that if we don’t have enough people interested in going.”
Bowen could not immediately be reached for comment.
The city is willing to schedule the catamaran if there are enough ticket sales by Friday, he wrote. Otherwise, the November trips may be canceled.
“Please understand that there is the potential that we may not have enough passengers for a November run and might not be able to pull it off,” Bowen wrote. “Please spread the word.”
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com