People Mover wants community feedback on options for transit system overhaul
Big changes are ahead for public transportation in Anchorage. Municipal transit officials plan to overhaul the People Mover bus system and they want the public to weigh in.
People Mover previously surveyed riders to find out what improvements they want to see most are shorter wait times and increased service during weekday evenings and weekends. They’re now looking at two plans to accomplish those objectives, both would mean cutting some routes and bus stops — though one is more drastic than the other.
Currently, People Mover spends about 50 percent of its budget covering high ridership areas in North Anchorage and the other 50 percent covering low ridership areas, like South and West Anchorage. Only one route, the 45 which runs through Mountain View, offers short wait times of 15 to 20 minutes, as it’s the most frequently traveled route. Several other routes require 60 minute wait times.
“I start work at nine, [which] means I have to be at the bus stop by 6:50 in the morning, so that’s like, it takes three hours for me to get to work. That’s a long time,” said Nastacia Cooper, who takes the bus four to five days a week to get to work.
She added: “I’d rather just get up at, I don’t know, get there at like eight and be at work at nine, rather than getting up at five and being at the bus stop at 6:50, and then if I miss it I have to wait another hour and then I’m late to work.”
The 80 percent ridership concept People Mover is considering would focus 80 percent of the budget on high volume routes, allowing for more frequent bus stops, but scaling back on routes in South Anchorage. While the 100 percent ridership concept would almost eliminate routes going south of Tudor, no wait times would be longer than 30 minutes. Both plans increase service hours on weekday evenings and weekends.
“Our consultant aptly put it, if you have a route that comes every 60 minutes, imagine a gate in front of your driveway that only opens every hour for one minute, and imagine trying to schedule your work life, your family life, all that, around that route,” said Anchorage transportation planner Colin Hodges during a presentation at Monday night’s Mountain View Community Council meeting.
But getting around faster comes at the price of less route options, as well as a longer walk to bus stops for residents, in some cases, an extra half of a mile.
“I think that sucks. I’d rather [it] let us go anywhere any time,” said Julius Green, whose main form of transportation is People Mover.
People Mover is now asking for community feedback on the two redesign concepts.
They’re holding several meetings for residents to voice their opinions:
Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Muldoon Public Library from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 16 at the Dimond Transit Center from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and at the Eagle River Public Library from 5 to 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Fairview Recreation Center from 4 to 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 18 at the Mountain View Public Library from 12 to 2 p.m. and at the Downtown Transit Center from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19 at Ocean View Elementary from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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