Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File Someone holds up an inflatable Alaska Marine Highway ferry at at a rally to support of the Alaska Marine Highway System on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File Someone holds up an inflatable Alaska Marine Highway ferry at at a rally to support of the Alaska Marine Highway System on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Long-awaited ferry reshaping report released

Read the full report here.

The Alaska Marine Highway Reshaping Work Group released its final report Thursday afternoon, providing recommendations on ways to improve the state’s ferry system.

The report details the nine-member work group’s findings and recommendations around several key areas, such as reducing costs, raising revenue and strengthening the system’s governance. The report also includes a draft implementation plan with actions that could begin as soon as November.

Recommendations included creating a new governing board composed of industry professionals and other interested parties to manage the ferry system. The report suggests a nine-member board that would have broad discretion over AMHS operations. Changing policy at the state level makes long-term planning for the ferry system difficult, the report said, and said a board could provide a better, more business-centered focus.

“More well-grounded outside advice focused on business and financial practices, ferry system fleet planning and maintenance, pricing and service models, and capital asset investment, much as a board of directors provides a corporation, would benefit AMHS,” the report says.

Like the work group itself, the report recommends the board should be made up of individuals representing various professions and backgrounds.

“A notional structure, purpose, and skill for such a board would include three members with business experience, preferably one or more in the marine business field, three members with strong marine operating, maintenance and vessel construction experience, two public members, one of which would represent Alaska Native interests, a union representative, and another person with experience in organization transformation,” the report says.

[Ferry work group says $24M subsidy insufficient]

Gov. Mike Dunleavy formed the reshaping work group in January with union representatives and elected officials among others, including Southeast Conference Executive Director Robert Venables, who said that while his organization would review and make its own comments on the report he was mostly pleased with the outcome.

“I was very glad to see a focus on management and governance structure, actionable steps, that will improve the organization,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “If the governor acts on these recommendations it’ll address some of the issues that plague the core of the Alaska Marine Highway System.”

Venables noted the report contained only recommendations that were likely to change before being fully implemented.

The report cites labor as a significant cost for AMHS and recommends finding ways to bring those costs down.

“As personnel costs make up almost 70% of vessel operating costs, significant system operational savings cannot be achieved without substantially lowering personnel costs,” the report says. “Although challenging for both parties, achieving cost savings, by agreement is preferable to other authorized actions that impair system operation.”

The report says contracts with maritime unions will need to be renegotiated to allow for “changes that optimally match vessel capacity, routing and scheduling to seasonal and demand requirements, increase system flexibility and lower system labor cost.”

Calls to representatives from The Inland Boatman’s Union of the Pacific and Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association were not immediately returned.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Aaron Surma, the executive director for National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, leads a safety plan workshop Tuesday night hosted by NAMI and the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. The workshop was a collaborative brainstorming session with Juneau residents about how to create a safety plan that people can use to help someone who is experiencing a mental health or suicide crisis. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Study shows a rise in anxiety and depression among children in Alaska

Increase may indicate growing openness to discussing mental health, according to experts

Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer addresses election information and misinformation during a press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (Screenshot)
With a week to go, officials work to clear up election confusion

Officials provided updated ballot statistics, fielded questions from reporters and clarified misconceptions about the current election cycle

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
State reports 21 new COVID deaths; cases down from last week

20 of the reported deaths took place from May to July

A closeup of one of the marijuana plants at Greatland Ganja in Kasilof, Alaska, as seen on March 19, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly streamlines process for marijuana establishment license applications

License applications will now go straight to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly for consideration

Most Read