Many students at UAA use the People Mover bus system to get to and from school every day. Numerous bus routes run through Anchorage, and all are free to ride for any student who has a University of Alaska ID. It is an alternative for students who don’t want to shell out the cash for a parking pass, or the money for gas.
While a free ride is appreciated, there are downsides to using public transportation. Among the concerns that students have are the occasional drunks that meander onto the bus and cause havoc, the extra amount of time it takes to get anywhere because it’s not usually a straight route to any rider’s particular destination, and it is continuously stopping for other passengers- making it run even later.
“I had a class at 8 in the morning last semester, and I had to be outside and on the bus at 6 in order to get to school in time and get to class before it started,” said student Amanda Sterling.
Another set-back to riding the bus is being stuck outside in the middle of winter, waiting for a bus that may be running late. Because a person usually doesn’t know how late it is running, they have to stand outside and remain at the bus stop so that they won’t miss the bus. To amend this, most major bus stops have an electronic board that displays all of the arrival times of the buses to that stop. For the rest of the stops, riders have little to rely on, and end up sitting at an uncovered bus stop waiting unpleasantly in the dreary cold.
Student Terry Vogul knows the feeling, “It’s always a guessing game because you want to get to the bus stop early in case the bus is running early, but if it isn’t running on time then you have to wait outside even longer until it comes. Sometimes in the winter when buses get stuck, you don’t know and you are just waiting for the bus that seems like it will never come.”
What many students do not know is that the Municipality of Anchorage has had an online system for tracking buses for several years. It was originally created as a way for the Muni to track the buses and adjust their time schedules based on how early or late a bus got through its route. Then it was decided that the system would be useful for the people of the community, and made it public for everyone to use.
Accessible via computer, tablet, or smart phone, this system makes it easy for a student to check the schedule of their bus, and stay inside until the estimated arrival time or make a dash to the stop if they are running late. It is also useful for just running around town.
“The system loads pretty well on my iPhone. It’s great when I don’t have a computer that I can easily access. I use it all the time on my phone when I’m taking the bus to get around town too,” said Peter Larkin.
While the system isn’t perfect yet, it is the best alternative to waiting outside and wondering if the bus will ever come.
The bus tracker can be found online at: http://bustracker.muni.org/InfoPoint/