City hears feedback on improved bus routes

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ANCHORAGE, (KTUU)- The Municipality of Anchorage has worked more than a year on implementing a new bus system for the city. It provides more frequent service to some areas of town while eliminating routes in other areas.

“The current system isn’t sustainable with the fiscal climate, the budget scenarios,” said Bart Rudolph, the Planning & Marketing Manager for the Public Transportation Department. He says the new system will be the most efficient with the budget the city has.

The new routes were published last November and include “frequent service” areas for Northern Lights, Mountain View, Debar and in West Anchorage covering Spenard and the airport. During the week a bus will arrive every 15 minutes and every 30 minutes on weekends.

Routes cut include route 60 on the Old Seward Highway, Route 36, serving west Anchorage and 36th Avenue west of Lake Otis.
Bus riders south of Dimond will have one-way rush hour service depending on the direction of the rush.

This week the Public transportation Department is holding public meetings to get input on the schedules for the new system.

“We can show people now in actual times if they leave their house at 6 a.m. they’re going to get at this point at 6:25 a.m. and that will get them to their destination by whenever they need to be there,” said Rudolph.

At the start of a public meeting held at Sand Lake Elementary school three women in attendance said the new system won’t work for them, including the mother of a disabled son who says the loss of route 36 will require him to walk nine city blocks to the nearest bus stop. She says that won’t be possible in the winter.

“When he heard there was no longer going to be a bus for him to catch he cried on the way home. It broke my heart because it’s not that his mom and dad don’t have a car, because we do, but he liked that independence, he liked catching the bus,” said Helen Kolbeck.

Rudolph says his department is speaking with other departments, “It’s known in the city we had a pretty bad winter. In order for this to work successfully we are requiring people to walk a little further which means we really need to talk about sidewalk maintenance, sidewalk clearing. Even talk about how we’re designing roads and intersections,” Rudolph said.

There is one more public meeting to provide input on route schedules. It’s scheduled for July 29 at 10:30 a.m. at Spring Hill Elementary. Feedback is accepted through August 4th.

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