January 25, 2008
One such factor used by AMHS officials is the costs of operating two mainline vessels, the Columbia and the Malaspina, on the Bellingham run. The 408-foot Malaspina, capable of carrying 499 passengers and 88 vehicles, has weekly expenses of almost a half million dollars and while generates slightly more than 7 million dollars in revenue based on 25.4 weeks of service.
"Removing the Malaspina from the Bellingham run, where it ran at only 50-to-70 percent capacity and resulted in inefficient expenditures of millions of dollars in operating costs, is one example of proving that the system and its management team is truly committed to reviewing all its operations and making bold changes to improve the efficiency and fiscal responsibility of the ferry system," said Dennis Hardy, Deputy Commissioner of Marine Operations for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF). "The traffic displaced from the Malaspina will increase the capacity utilization of the Columbia".
The proposed summer ferry schedule calls for moving the Malaspina to Southeast Alaska's Lynn Canal for Juneau, Haines and Skagway. This move also will allow the fast ferry Fairweather to provide more day-boat service to Sitka and Petersburg, an extended service long sought after by residents in the two Southeast Alaska, coastal communities.
"AMHS is working hard to balance fiscal responsibility with the demand for services and the needs of the communities," said Hardy. "It's our intention to fuse customer demand and customer satisfaction as one for Alaskans living in these coastal communitiesand to this point; we have received positive responses to our changes from Sitka, Petersburg, Haines, and Skagway, because the Malaspina will provide service between Haines and Skagway that the Fairweather's vehicle deck capacity could not accommodate.
During the past three years, AMHS officials noted a number of unsold passenger tickets and a significant amount of available car deck space for transporting vehicles. Redeploying vessels under the 2009 operating plan provides for more efficient use of the vessel's carrying capacity.
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