The Alaska Department of Transportation released the long-awaited draft study for reshaping the Alaska Marine Highway System with the aim of reducing state funding for ferry service to $24 million a year, which would be about half of this year’s appropriation

The report recommends creating two public corporations, one for Southeast Alaska ferry service and one for Southcentral Alaska. The draft said cutting state funding to $24 million a year would require a 25 percent fare increase along with an 8.7 percent wage decrease for ferry workers. The Tazlina would serve Lynn Canal, running as a 12-hour day boat with daily roundtrips from Auke Bay to Haines and on to Skagway, returning to Auke Bay from Haines.

Commissioned by Gov. Mike Dunleavy last year to explore privatizing the ferry system or creating a public-private partnership, the report outlined 11 options for reducing the state’s financial obligations to the marine highway system. Northern Economics, the Anchorage-based consulting firm contracted to author the report, first delivered its findings to DOT on Oct. 15. The report was released to the public at the Marine Transportation Advisory Board meeting for review and comment in Anchorage on Wednesday morning.

Reaching Dunleavy’s budget goal of $24 million, the report found, won’t work if a minimal level of service to existing communities is to be preserved.

“In general, the study team concludes that reducing the AMHS operating subsidy to $24 million will be extremely difficult if there is also a desire to provide minimum levels of service to existing AMHS communities,” the report states. “(It) was the only studied option that achieved the target subsidy level and also provided minimum levels to most (but not all) communities currently served by AMHS.”

Elimination of mainline sailings to Bellingham and elimination of all sailings to Prince Rupert are