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

Aimed at success – the launch hit the target

Prince Rupert teen Brendan Eshom launches educational software app that hits Apple’s “Top Charts”

Getting a head for cancer research

Prince Rupert Cops for Cancer want to flush away the illness with loads of donations for research

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read