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Booking is now open for winter ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Booking is now open for winter ferry service on the Alaska Marine Highway System. The state Department of Transportation released its seven-month schedule on Thursday. That schedule runs from October 1 through the first week in May.

At most there will be five vessels running and with upcoming maintenance scheduled some communities will see long gaps especially in January and February when both the LeConte [leh-CAWN-tee] and Kennicott [KEN-ih-COT] will be overhauled. 

Transportation officials said they tweaked the final schedule following public comment.

Now it aligns for two regional basketball tournaments. And a once-monthly trip between Juneau and Kake was added in October and November while the mainliner Matanuska is being overhauled.

Sitka also will receive an additional northbound sailing each month.

Neither of the $60 million Alaska Class Ferries will be running. 

The Tazlina remains tied up at Juneau’s Auke Bay terminal. Its sister ship Hubbard has yet to enter service. It’s being fitted with space for crew quarters later this year. That’ll allow it to sail for longer than 12 hours between ports extending its range and flexibility. The fleet’s largest ship, the Columbia, will also remain tied up as a cost-savings measure. 

But that could change under a draft summer schedule recently released. It says state officials are also seeking to resume links with Prince Rupert, British Columbia, if outstanding issues with U.S. customs can be resolved.

Written comments for summer 2022 are being accepted through the end of August. Teleconferences to hear additional testimony and suggestions for adjustments are scheduled for September 2.