The Alaska Marine Highway System is facing severe budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, which could end service to Prince Rupert. (Jay Galvin Flickr photo)

The Alaska Marine Highway System is facing severe budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, which could end service to Prince Rupert. (Jay Galvin Flickr photo)

Uncertain future for Alaska ferry terminal in Prince Rupert

Severe budget cuts could mean ending service to the only Canadian stop on the Alaska Marine Highway

Prince Rupert’s Alaskan ferry terminal is facing closure in the wake of dramatic budget cuts proposed by the state’s new governor.

In February, Gov. Mike Dunleavy revealed his first budget suggesting that $98 million be cut from the state ferry system budget of $143 million. This has left the operating agencies to work out the details on how to continue a functional system after losing 69 per cent of the ferry budget.

“Literally today there was a big ‘Save Our Ferries’ rally on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol,” said Ken Alper, legislative assistant for Dan Ortiz, representative of Ketchikan.

The ferry’s summer schedule will remain the same for now, with uncertainty in the fall.

In Dunleavy’s initial budget proposal on Feb. 13 it was suggested that there will be no ferry service from Oct. 1, 2019 until June 30, 2020.

But on March 12, there were three possible scenarios laid out to keep ferry service beyond Oct. 1 — all of them include cutting service to Prince Rupert.

“There is a lot up in the air regarding the entire marine highway system and a lot that’s unresolved… and Prince Rupert is sort of potential collateral damage in all this,” Alper said.

The ferry system services communities from Skagway to Bellingham, Washington, with a stop in Prince Rupert. There was an average of 790 passengers a week in 2018, and 314 vehicles. Up to February 2019, Prince Rupert’s terminal has seen 78 passengers, according to the Port of Prince Rupert monthly traffic statistics.

The threat of losing the coastal network isn’t unfamiliar. Last year when the Alaska Marine Highway System faced possible shut down due to lack of funding in the state budget. But $140 million was worked into the budget to cover the service for the fiscal year.

READ MORE: Alaska’s marine highway receives critical funding

There have been ongoing issues with the Alaska Marine Highway terminal in Prince Rupert, including the need for approximately $15 million in upgrades and changes to ferry schedules that prevented basketball teams from Metlakatla, Alaska from participating in the 60th All Native Basketball Tournament.

READ MORE: Ferry schedules cost an Alaskan team a spot in the All Native Basketball Tournament

With the fall in the price of oil, the new governor has proposed sweeping cuts in not only transportation budget, but also with education, and state-funded health care.


Shannon Lough | Editor
Shannon Lough 
Send Shannon email
Like the Haida Gwaii Observer on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prince Rupert’s Bobby Brown celebrated his 95th birthday milestone on March 5 with family across the country in an online celebration. (Photo: supplied by Jodi Brown)
Prince Rupert man celebrates 95th birthday milestone online

Five generations come together COVID-19 style in Prince Rupert to say “Happy Birthday”

Main door at Cranes Crossing, Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter, on March 5. Northern Health issued a public notice of potential exposure occurring at the shelter between Feb. 22 and 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 Public Exposure Notice issued for Prince Rupert’s homeless shelter

Northern Health said possible exposure between Feb. 22 and 24

Air Canada cancelled flights to Prince Regional Airport on Jan. 23, 2021 due to loss of ridership during COVID-19. An Air Canada Rouge takes off from Montreal in March 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
BC Liberals call for immediate action and support for B.C. airports

Prince Rupert Regional Airport and others across the province struggle with COVID-19 effects

Paul Williams rector of St. Andrews Cathedral in Prince Rupert sits in front of the 95-year-old pipe organ on March 5. The church has put out a community call for volunteers to play the instrument to keep it fresh and operational. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
St. Andrews Cathedral pipe organ needs players to make it sing

Prince Rupert volunteers who want to practice their playing skills are welcome

Alex Campbell, Velna Nelson, Beatrice Robinson and Ellen Mason take part in the Sm’algyax Word App and website launched by School District 52 on March 1. (Photo: Supplied by Roberta Edzera)
Prince Rupert SD 52 launches new Sm’algyax word app and website

Database for new language resources stems back more than 30 years

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read