Dear Public Transit Advisory Board,
Over the last several months, the city of Anchorage has seen many changes to daily life. One such change is to the operations of the city bus routes.
When it was announced that the bus system would change effective Oct. 23, 2017, city residents were promised a more convenient bus-riding experience. The promise of shorter wait times and more bus hours was what seemed to be a promising update to the previous bus system, exciting many Anchorage residents.
However, within the first month of its implementation, several discrepancies and inconveniences became apparent. For one, several important bus routes were removed. More specifically, the removal of bus routes that traveled along the Old Seward Highway, such as route 60. This decision should have first been discussed with Anchorage citizens instead of in secret. It has severely affected the lives of many Anchorage residents, especially those living along the Old Seward Highway.
The decision to remove important bus routes has caused many to be forcibly put in the position to have to call cabs that take “too long to pick you up and far too long to get you where you need to go.” The removal of routes 1, 2 and 36 also have negative effects upon residents in Midtown Anchorage and Huffman Road. Along the Old Seward Highway, it can take up to an hour to arrive at the nearest bus stop, which is not even on the Old Seward Highway. The decision to remove these bus routes has caused some people to lose their jobs, because they cannot rely on the bus system to get to work on time.
These are some suggestions that many Anchorage residents feel should be considered when it comes to the bus system:
- Change the system back to what it was like before (many feel that there was nothing wrong with the old system)
- Add back routes, especially along the Old Seward Highway and Midtown
- Better utilization of the shuttle buses
- Converting the route 55 bus to a “every 30 minutes bus route”
- Add more bus stops along Lake Otis Parkway
When it comes to municipal transportation, managers should listen to those who ride the buses. When the changes first took effect in October, many people complained. Many Anchorage residents voiced their stories and concerns about the new bus system to the Anchorage assembly. Only one assemblyperson, Amy Demboski, replied. Everyone else didn’t seem to care all that much. The municipality may think that just because people are not complaining about the system anymore that they must be getting used to it. That is not the case.
No one is complaining about the system because they feel like they are not being heard. The assembly meeting regarding the changes is proof of that. So now we ask the municipality to do its job. What is that job? To listen to the Anchorage residents. Notice how I did not say “the people.” It is evident that these changes to the bus system have arose due to outside influences. This is not New York nor Los Angeles nor New Orleans. This is the city of Anchorage, and it would be appreciated if the municipality would recognize that and listen to Anchorage residents. Anchorage residents ask that the municipality takes the time to actually care and listen to what it is that residents and the city need to fully enjoy all that the city has to offer.