Stranded at the dock

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2005

Gov. Murkowski recently called the Alaska Marine Highway System fast ferries a "bad deal" inherited from Gov. Knowles. We village-dwellers wish we could inherit such a deal!

Alaska's fast ferries could be a success story if Murkowski and Robin Taylor (who was a huge critic of the ferry system when he was a senator) weren't running them into the ground. They go faster than designed to, burn less fuel than designed to, handle rough weather better than designed to, all the while making travel faster.

The governor complains that the fast ferries do not have enough passengers, not taking into consideration the hardships his own agenda has caused the people who depend on the AMHS. He's playing games with our lives, as he takes our ferries into Glacier Bay to fight with the feds; tying the ferries to the dock, because he's fighting with a union; or changing their routes from Prince William Sound to Petersburg because he's fighting with Valdez - all of which literally leave Alaskans stranded at the dock. When he diverted the ferry to Glacier Bay, that left several people waiting at the ferry landing in Kake! We don't pretend to believe that the governor gives a hoot about service to the villages or how convenient the current fast ferry is to Petersburg's daytime schedule. Reliable service to Pelican, Hoonah, Angoon or Kake! It's not even a concern.

The governor's transportation is well taken care of with the purchase of his jet, newly trained staff and all the costs that come with such a "good deal." It gets him where he needs to go faster and more conveniently, except on the days when our family-member prisoners are being transported to or from Arizona. Let's hear about the jet's ongoing maintenance costs as equally as much as we hear about the high costs to serve the villages.

Where is the need for the AMHS to jump into tourism when the industry is so well taken care of already? The fast ferries - all the fast ferries - need to be put on a predicted route with printed schedules that accommodate all the communities the AMHS is intended to serve. Then advertise those schedules and routes just like any other transportation operation worldwide. Gov. Murkowski needs to get out of the national interest mode and begin making the needs of Alaskans and Alaska communities a priority.

Ernestine Hanlon


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