Budget cuts force 4 ferries out of service

State transportation officials plan to take four of Alaska’s 11 ferries out of service next summer because of budget cuts.

The ferry Taku sails into the Wrangell Narrows on its way south in 2013. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)
The ferry Taku sails into the Wrangell Narrows on its way south in 2013. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

The Juneau Empire reports the marine highway system unveiled its draft summer schedule on Tuesday. The state will idle the Taku, Fairweather and Chenega next summer, and the ferry Malaspina will only operate during May.

The Taku has been in moorage in Ketchikan since last year.

Jeremy Woodrow is a spokesman for the state transportation department. He says they expect further cuts when the Legislature meets starting in January.

The budget cuts translate to less service. The 11 ferries provided a combined 212.9 weeks of service in summer 2014. This summer, that dropped to 184.3 weeks.

Woodrow says next year, they’re proposing 145 weeks of service.