Three years after adopting a pricing plan that adds a surcharge for passenger, vehicle and stateroom fares on popular sailings, the Alaska Marine Highway System has decided to suspend the program for its fall/winter schedule.

The ferry system’s “dynamic pricing” added 5% to 50% to ticket prices, depending on the percentage of a ship’s capacity already booked — similar to airlines raising prices as flights fill up.

The Alaska Department of Transportation announced the decision last Friday to suspend the surcharges.

“Dynamic pricing works when we can offer passengers the ability to plan ahead to take advantage of lower prices,” said John Falvey, Alaska Marine Highway System general manager. “Returning to flat rates will provide relief to our customers as we work to improve.”

Planning ahead for fall/winter ferry reservations is running late this year. The timetable kicks in Oct. 1, and the ferry system said it plans to announce the schedule this week. Until then, the sailings are not open for reservations.

The draft fall/winter schedule went out for public comment last month. The final timetable will include changes “reflecting feedback the department heard from Alaskans,” the department said in last week’s announcement.

Wrangell would get pretty much the same service it has in recent years under the draft schedule — one stop in each direction per week, October through April. A state ferry would stop in town northbound each week on Friday, then come back on its southbound run every Monday, according to the draft schedule.

However, the draft included service gaps for Cook Inlet and Gulf of Alaska communities of Homer, Seldovia and Kodiak, which would receive no service after the first week of January through early March. Prince William Sound communities of Whittier, Cordova and Valdez would be without ferry service October and November.

In addition to suspending dynamic pricing this winter, the department last week announced it is launching a new program that it calls, “Charting the Course Toward Thriving Communities: Reimagining AMHS Program to Restore Reliability.”

“Coastal communities will see more transparency, flat rates and increased communication,” the department said, as it “moves toward improving marine highway service reliability.”

“I want Alaskans to know that we are listening and making adjustments based on what we hear,” Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson said in the announcement. “We are working to restore AMHS service to pre-pandemic levels, but it will take time and require us to work closely with our coastal communities to ensure the long-term health of the ferry system.”