Alaska’s Arteries: A visual map of ferry system anemia

The Alaska Marine Highway system has long been the transportation lifeblood of Southeast Alaska. (Mobile users may view infographic here.)

Lately, it’s started to look a little anemic.

Next summer, four of the system’s 11 ferries might be laid up for lack of funds. Routes will be cut, operating hours shortened.

But how short? What will you see (or not) at the pier? To see the difference, we dug into the archives of the Alaska Marine Highway and constructed three traffic maps for the month of July.

July has historically been the ferry system’s busiest month, with salmon outbound from processing plants and tourists inbound to the land of the Midnight Sun.

In these maps, blue represents ferry traffic outbound from a port. Red represents traffic inbound to the port.

Each circle includes the total number of ferry visits that port received in July. The circles are proportionally sized, as are the lines demarking traffic.

It might be difficult to understand through budget figures, but our pictures make it clear: Unless the Alaska Legislature acts to unexpectedly boost the ferry system’s budget, Southeast Alaska’s lifeblood will be thin next summer.

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