Columbia's return to service in doubt for lack of crew

A state Department of Transportation official told legislators that the ferry system is “burning out our crew” with lots of overtime amid staff shortages, and that the problem jeopardizes tentative plans to bring back the Columbia to service in Southeast for the first time since fall 2019.

The Alaska Marine Highway System as of March 16 was down 125 employees from the minimum needed to staff its full online summer schedule plus the addition of the Columbia, according to a department presentation to the Senate Finance Committee.

Deputy Commissioner Rob Carpenter said 250 new hires would be even...


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