Alaska Marine Highway drops price for Taku ferry

The Alaska Marine Highway System ferry Taku was tied up in 2015. It’s been for sale, but so far no one has submitted a bid. (Creative Commons photo by Ted McGrath)

No one wants to buy the state ferry Taku.

So, officials are lowering its price.

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The Alaska Marine Highway System took the 54-year-old ship out of service almost two years ago.

Officials put it up for sale in March, with a minimum price of $1.5 million.

But no one responded by the May 9 deadline.

Spokeswoman Meadow Bailey said the new minimum bid is $700,000. She said officials wanted to cut the price in half, plus a little more.

“This gives people who expressed an interest in the vessel a little bit more opportunity and perhaps makes the vessel a little bit more attractive to them,” Bailey said.

The Taku is about 350 feet long. It can carry up to 50 vehicles and 350 passengers. It has 40 staterooms, a cafeteria, observation lounges and a covered solarium. It sailed mostly Southeast routes.

Bailey said the state did hear from some potential Taku buyers, though they didn’t talk about their plans.

“They’re kind of quiet about exactly what their intentions might be and what would be holding them back. It is a business deal, so there’s a certain amount of reluctance to talk about details,” Bailey said. “But we’ll see if this makes it a sweeter opportunity for people and if we get some responses, which is our hope.”

The new bid deadline is May 31.

Bailey said the state will consider other options if no one expresses interest.

The Taku is moored in Ketchikan’s Ward Cove. A buyer would have to accept it as is, where is.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.