Failing for lack of service

Letters to the editor

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2004

On Sept. 14 I made and paid for an Alaska Marine Highway System reservation to go from Juneau to Sitka. I was scheduled to leave that following Friday for a weeklong job. I had my jeep full of equipment for work ready to go, just to find out from a friend, not AHMS, that the Friday sailing on the Taku was transferred to the Aurora.

I then went to the AHMS Web site to find out that my return trip on Sunday, Sept. 26, was canceled. This cancellation is due to the Fairweather crew not being trained for night sailings. AMHS knew that the crew was not trained for night sailings all summer long, but still had it on the ferry schedule knowing that the crew is not trained. The press release on their Web site shows that the sailings were canceled the very same day I called in the ferry reservation and went down to the office to pay for and pick up my tickets. I received not a single call from the AHMS about the changes. They just took my money and did not say a word about any cancellations or changes to my reservation. AHMS would have left me to figure out the return trip back.

I called the reservation center three times and I finally got a straight answer from a helpful lady who said that I might get a full refund back. Because of my work schedule I could not sit in Sitka until Oct. 1 for the next sailing to get my jeep and equipment back to Juneau. On Thursday I had to cancel my AHMS reservation and call Alaska Airlines to get two last-minute, full-fare tickets for $500, and then air cargo all of my equipment, which weighs more than 500 pounds, to Sitka and back.

The AMHS is asking the state for an additional $20 million to stay afloat. If the services that they provide were better maybe they would not be in this situation. My $500 may not sound like much but it can add up with everyone else that gets held up in a situation like this.

Raymond Woodbury


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