Bus System Faces Cuts Under One Proposed 2013 Budget
Even without cuts to service, fare hike is likely
ANCHORAGE - If you rely on the People Mover bus system to get to work, go shopping or run errands, the mayor’s proposed budget could spell bad news.
The mayor has two budget proposals, a plan A and a plan B. Plan A assumes the city has a budget gap as large as $30 million. To deal with that, he has asked every city department to come up with its share of cuts.
For the People Mover system, the proposed cuts include eliminating the major bus route that takes commuters from Eagle River into Anchorage. Late night and early morning trips on more than half a dozen routes would be eliminated. The cut with the most impact is likely to be the elimination of all Sunday bus service.
Ramona Nelson is a frequent rider who says the cuts would be difficult for many working people.
“Lots of us work different shifts,” says Nelson. “It’s not just Monday to Friday 9 to 5. We need this bus; it is our lifeline, and if they cut this bus, how do we get back and forth to work?”
The other choice is plan B, which assumes Mayor Sullivan can use property tax money that used to go towards the Anchorage School District to help plug the budget gap. Under plan B there would be no reductions in People Mover service.
“Everyone prefers plan B,” says People Mover Director Lance Wilber. “There is nothing about plan A that people like.”
But no matter which budget passes one thing is likely and that’s a fare hike. The city says the last fare increase was in 2005 when the cost of diesel was under two dollars a gallon and the now it’s almost four.
The proposal is to raise adult fares 25 cents, which would bring it to two dollars. Monthly passes would go up to $60. The Anchorage Assembly has scheduled two public hearings on the city budget, including the fare hike, for October 23 and 30.