The Alaska Marine Highway System plans its next round of fare increases to start May 1. That’s when the new summer schedule begins.
Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said it’s the second year of a five-year effort to equalize ticket prices.
“What we’re trying to do is bring similar distance fares into a similar price across the entire system. So you’re getting what you pay for no matter where you are in the system,” he said.
Most fares are being raised only a few dollars, as shown on the AMHS reservations website. A few are dropping. Some examples, based on rates for one adult passenger:
- Sitka-to-Juneau increases $8, from $57 to $65.
- Juneau-to-Ketchikan will be $4 more (from $122 to $126).
- Kodiak-Homer is up $2 (from $83 to $85).
- Bellingham, Washington-to-Skagway, one of the longer routes, will increase $13 (from $451 to $464).
- Cordova-Whittier will cost $3 less (from $84 to $81).
The new May-to-September schedule was released Wednesday.
Sailings are actually up for the busier months, June through August. But Woodrow said they’re down for the next full budget year, which begins in July.
“Where we’ve been able to reduce the frequency of sailings has been more in the shoulder season. Late April, early May and then late September [is] where we’ve kind of reduced just a week here or there for each ship,” he said.
He said the summer schedule was developed around the governor’s proposed budget. It calls for a 5 percent cut in unrestricted general fund spending.
The Legislature could further reduce the marine highway budget. Woodrow said any such cuts would come out of next fall, winter and spring’s schedules.