PUBLISHED: 4:46 PM on Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Ferries are a silver lining to airline woes
I read both of your articles regarding air travel with interest. Alaska is fairly isolated as it is, and the prospect of entire cities the size of Juneau losing all service is, frankly, scary.

There is, however, one silver lining I see, and that is the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry system. While the slow speed leaves something to be desired, my understanding is that water-based transport is both cheaper and more energy efficient than any land or air transport. The Marine Highway System has been struggling against the competition from cheap airfare. If these coastal communities can survive the high energy costs (I can tell you that interior communities are really struggling), then slower but reliable water transport might be the answer for a long time to come.

We live in interesting times. The one thing Alaska has going for itself that no other state has is the large state income from the high oil prices. It will be important for the state to continue to provide at least basic transport options for its citizens.

Eric Schneider, Fairbanks

Writing from Baghdad, Iraq