The Alaska Marine Highway System is instituting new security measures in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Many of the measures - such as requiring photo identification - have been used by commercial airlines for years, said Capt. George Capacci, ferry system general manager. He said "it only makes sense" for the ferry system to adopt them now.
"We ask the indulgence of the public," Capacci said, "because they need to know it will take longer to board the ferry. They should anticipate delays at border crossings - particularly Prince Rupert (British Columbia), Haines and Skagway."
Passengers will not be allowed to put their bags on baggage carts until they have shown their tickets to a crew member stationed near the carts. Baggage carts will no longer be parked at ferry terminals, but will be parked closer to the ramps so pursers and other crew members can keep more control, Capacci said.
"We are asking for the traveling public to understand that we need more security at this very tragic time in our national history," Capacci said. Most of the passengers were "cooperating very nicely," he said.
A final security measure is that visitors - such as spouses of ticketed passengers - will not be allowed on ferries unless they are escorted by a crew member.
In addition, "There are security measures we are taking internally," Capacci said. He did not disclose any details.
Capacci spoke this morning from Prince Rupert, where he was participating in the Southeast Conference, a meeting of government and business leaders from around Southeast Alaska.
No schedule changes are anticipated due to these new security measures, said Philip Grasser, marine engineering manager for the ferry system. "Next year we may have to allow more time, but not now," Grasser said.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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