People Mover changes leaves riders confused on first day
New times, new routes and new bus numbers are some of the changes that greeted People Mover bus riders on Monday as the city launched its biggest overhaul of the public transportation system in decades.
But with so many changes happening at once, many riders found themselves not only confused but concerned. Elaine Philemonof studied the new route map in the Downtown Transit Center.
"I'm trying to go to Muldoon where my children are," said Philemonof, noting that her round-trip journey would now entail six buses instead of four.
"I think they should have left it the way it was," she said.
City Public Transportation Planning Manager Bart Rudolph said the changes will make the system more efficient at a time when the People Mover budget has remained flat. He said glitches were to be expected on day one.
"This is new for everyone, " said Rudolph. "People are having to learn everything brand new, and even though we've been talking about this for 18 months, it's never real until it actually happens."
The city has streamlined the busiest routes, adding more buses so that wait times are down to 15 minutes on weekdays and half an hour on weekends. But in neighborhoods were ridership was low, many stops have been eliminated. That was the case in one Eagle River neighborhood for Rose Rigal who was pushing her 7-month-old in a stroller.
"You have to walk with a stroller and a baby in the snow," said Rigal.
"Depending on how deep it is and how bad the snow gets, we are going to be walking a mile and half to the nearest bus stop."
The changes may not be good for some, but planners insist they'll be better for most. Rudolph said things will improve with time.
"Tomorrow we are going to be better, we are going to be better the day after that," said Rudolph. "Once everyone learns how to use this system it's going to be really great for them."
Not all riders would agree at this point, although some said, they're willing to give it some time.