Survey says Anchorage public bus system has room for improvement

Posted: Sunday, January 13, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A survey of 2,300 people has confirmed what Anchorage bus riders have said for years: The city's public bus system offers inadequate service.

The survey by consultants RLS & Associates of Dayton, Ohio, is the first major study of the system in at least 20 years. The consultants said People Mover needs to get people where they're going faster, it should go more places and it should offer more frequent service.

In their survey, the consultants asked bus riders how well the system works and what the riders use it for. They also interviewed non-bus-riding residents, business people and political officials.

City transit director Bob Kniefel said the study was conducted because the town changed dramatically since routes were last comprehensively reviewed in the 1980s. For example, new big-box stores have created economic activity where none existed before.

Based on its surveys in Anchorage and its national expertise, RLS & Associates concluded that the current system -- with most routes operating to and from a transit center downtown -- is inadequate for the demand.

The company proposed that the city add transfer hubs. The consultants also call for adding routes and increasing service so that a bus would come every 30 minutes all day long on all major routes. That's a threshold for attracting people who could afford to use cars but choose not to, Jody Karcz, People Mover planning manager, told the Anchorage Daily News.

Karcz said the bus system serves an estimated 6,500 people a day.

Now the buses operate every 30 minutes only at peak travel times in the morning and evening. At midday, it's an hour between buses, and on the weekends, people could wait as long as two hours on some routes.

The consultants are still working on a five-year plan and cost estimates for the improvements.

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