Disabled woman seeks more transportation options on holidays

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Every year on Black Friday, tens of thousands of shoppers in Alaska's largest city battle traffic, long lines, and chilly weather all in the name of holiday deals.

Some Anchorage residents who rely on city transportation services, however, were never even able to make it into the lines that so many others complain about.

The People Mover bus system, a lifeline for low-income residents, counts both Thanksgiving and the Friday afterward as employee-observed holidays. So does Anchor Rides, the system that serves people living with disabilities.

Kathy Riker had both of her feet amputated due to complications from diabetes. She relies on a 300-pound electric wheelchair to get around, and she said extremely few taxis in town are able to handle the weight of it, and that she would have a tough time paying far more than what Anchor Rides charges just to get to the store.

"I'm not able to go shopping today. I'm all dressed with no place to go," she said. "People in wheelchairs like me, we're kind of stuck."

Riker said that she sees Anchor Rides as an overall "great service," but she wishes the city or someone else would figure out a way to help people in her situation get around any day of the year. She also said she would like to see government leaders get around town in a wheelchair one day every year, and in the meantime, she said it would be nice if Anchorage stores would offer Black Friday deals to people in wheelchairs on a day when they can reliably get there.

City transportation officials were not available to comment on Friday, but Anchor Rides and People Mover did long advertise the service interruption so people who are able to find an alternative would be able to do so.

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