The State of Alaska is closing down bars on state ferries this spring as a way to save money. The Alaska Department of Transportation made the announcement today.

The Columbia is one of the ferries closing down its bar.

The Columbia is one of the ferries closing down its bar.

The closures will affect the six mainline ferries that service the Southeast region, Southcentral, and the Aleutians.

Jeremy Woodrow is a spokesman for the Department of Transportation.

“They’re the larger vessels that operate 24-7,” Woodrow says. “They have full bars and each of the vessels has a dedicated staff person that works in that bar during bar hours.”

That includes the ferries Kennicott, Matanuska, Columbia, Tustumena, Malaspina, and the Taku.

Woodrow says the bars are a net loss to the state of more than $750,000 annually. He says the department has been looking for ways to save money in the ferry system for years.

“We cut gift shops out of the budget last year and we identified bars last year as well though with the reductions in the budget coming up this next year, this was a reduction that we couldn’t pass up when trying to find ways to reduce costs to the operating budget,” Woodrow says.

The closures will affect at least a dozen bar tending positions but Woodrow says they will not let those employees go. They will move them to other jobs. The savings will come by not hiring new positions on the ferries.

There will still be alcohol for purchase on the ships. The cafeterias will sell beer and wine during meal times and the bar rooms themselves will be available as lounge space to passengers.

The closures will be phased out between March and June as each vessel returns from its annual overhaul this spring.

For additional information on Alaska’s ferry system, you can go to