The Alaska Marine Highway System should do well in the
A recently passed transportation bill sets aside $67
million a year for ferries. That replaces a smaller, less certain amount of
money that had to be fought for every year.
Ferry chief Mike Neussl says the money is
based on a formula, which should help Alaska.
"The three factors that
would play into that formula would be number of passengers carried, number of
vehicles carried and route miles. Route miles obviously [are] important for
Alaska since our system is probably the longest-route ferry system in the
Alaska Congressman Don Young inserted the provision into
the House version of the Surface Transportation Act. It made it through
negotiations with the Senate.
The bill awaits President Obama's signature.
Neussl says parts of the legislation will benefit other
ferry systems more than ours.
"The Alaska Marine Highway
System with 3,500 or so route miles certainly competes well in that part of the
formula. In terms of passengers, not
so much. We carried 334,000 passengers a year. I think Washington state ferries
carries about 22 million a year."
The transportation act also includes funding for tribal
roads and the Alaska Railroad. It covers the next two and a quarter years.