Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Allen Marine to offer ferry two days this month


February 20, 2020 | View PDF

Residents looking for ferry service to and from Juneau have an opportunity twice this month after the Haines Borough Assembly voted unanimously to take responsibility for two charters with Allen Marine on Feb. 23 and 29.

The public can make reservations by calling Allen Marine on dates that as of press time were still unspecified. Tickets are $125 per passenger each way, and the borough will pick up any costs unrecovered by reservations.

The assembly decision comes after Haines and Skagway basketball players couldn’t get home last weekend. The Glacier Bears boys and girls basketball teams, originally scheduled to fly home on Ward Air after their basketball games last week, were stuck in Juneau when bad weather kept planes from flying. On Sunday, school district superintendent Roy Getchell worked with borough manager Debra Schnabel, mayor Jan Hill, school board members and Skagway officials to cover the costs for additional passengers. More than 80 residents paid $110 to travel back to Skagway and Haines.

“A whole lot of conversations needed to occur between two communities, their local governments and their school districts to make this happen,” Getchell said.

The Haines Borough Assembly held a special session Wednesday evening to consider whether it should take on the same responsibility when the Glacier Bears travel to Juneau for their final regular season games on Feb. 23 and when they return home from Juneau on Feb. 29. The cost of the charter is about $8,200. Allen Marine provides a discounted rate to the school, leaving the borough responsible for about $9,000 for both trips assuming no residents make reservations for the trip.

Schnabel told the assembly that she wants to be responsive to members of the public who want to ride with the district’s charter. “The administration is not recommending or trying to create a transportation service in Lynn Canal...right now what we are talking about is the possibility of the borough taking responsibility for the charters that the school district needs to make a commitment,” Schnabel said.

“This is going to be a win either way,” assembly member Gabe Thomas said. “There’s going to be people that want to use this. I don’t see this as a lose. It’s a helpful thing for the community.”

school board member Sara Chapell said the charter will help people who can’t fly on small planes. “Having this consistent schedule allows people with limited mobility to get to Juneau for appointments,” Chapell said.

Assembly member Jerry Lapp said the assembly should ensure they make the commitment for only the two dates agreed upon. “If something happens further down the line then we need to start thinking outside the box.”

Haines has been without ferry service since late January when the Matanuska broke down. The next scheduled ferry for Haines is the Tazlina on March 6. The Alaska Marine Highway System, which currently has a 12-ship fleet, is down to a single operational vessel, the 125-passenger Lituya which shuttles between Ketchikan and Metlakatla. 

Allen Marine will charge the borough $200 a day for taking reservations.


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