Mayor LaFrance to cut bus service in Anchorage

66
8874

Empty buses following their routes through Anchorage with just two or three people onboard is not the only problem that the People Mover system has. The city’s bus service also can’t find drivers to move those empty buses around.

Two years after the city had bought 40 new buses to replace the ones that had been in service since 2013, bus service will be scaled back in October due to “significant workforce shortages and challenges.”

The city has paid over $750,000 in overtime since Jan. 22, 2024, and its on-time performance has been just 74%, while it has missed 224 trips in the first 150 days of the year. An unreliable bus system can be a serious problem for people who can’t report to work on time.

A public comment period opened quietly on July 5 and will run through Aug. 5 to help inform the city about which routes could be cut.

“Significant workforce shortages and challenges are affecting attendance and availability to perform the work and impacting the ability to maintain current service levels. This situation is affecting not only riders but also the expectations of the Administration and the Assembly. The Department is working diligently with Municipal partners (Human Resources, Municipal Manager, Legal, and Risk Management) and the Teamsters Local 959 to find solutions. Recognizing this is a hardship for you, your patience and understanding are appreciated as these challenges are addressed,” the municipality says on the website.

But evidently the challenges are not expected to be fixed by the end of October, when the reduction of bus service is going into effect. Thus, it’s not “if” the bus service will be cut, but “which routes.”

The People Mover system is considering two main options:

Option A: All standard and neighborhood routes would have buses coming every 60 minutes, but Route 25 would keep its current level of frequent service. So, Routes 31, 35, 41, 51, 55, and 65 would be most impacted and have buses come every hour all day long. The option would impact 10 routes altogether.

Option B: Route 25 would have buses every 30 minutes all day, instead of 15 minutes. Route 25 is the busiest route, so this change means that trips might take longer because the buses will be fuller and stop more often, People Mover says. But all the other routes will stay the same as they are now. The option would impact just three routes.

Public comment, to be taken in writing, will also be taken at public events:

  • Email your Comments: [email protected]
  • Mail your Comments: Transit Planning, P.O. Box 196650, Anchorage AK 99519
  • Talk to Someone: 907-343-6543 (option #1, then option #2)
  • Visit: Customer Service, 517 W 7th Ave., Ste 200, Anchorage AK 9950

Read more about the changes planned at the People Mover webpage.

66 COMMENTS

    • He would have been tarred and feathered by the assembly. OF ALL THE NERVE!!! Those poor, poor bus riders who depend on the bus to get around. (that’s a sarcastic remark for those of you who can’t decipher)

    • The People Mover advertises open positions constantly, so it’s not at all a mystery. Here’s an excerpt from their monthly email, sent on July 3:

      Mechanic (Equipment Technician) – $34.50 – $40.03 hourly
      Travel Transit Advocate – $20.46 – $26.03 hourly
      Bus Operator – $27.10 – $31.34 hourly
      Body Shop Repair Technician – $34.50 – $40.03 hourly
      Equipment Service Tech II – $30.30 – $34.28 hourly

      Drivers have been represented by the Teamsters for decades (that contract was probably a saving grace in the bleak post-Jesse Carr years), so I’d bet the benefits are at least decent. Here’s the problem, and transit systems everywhere are facing this same problem. It’s rooted in the rate at which CDL-qualified drivers can be churned out by the system. There’s also the fact that once someone gets that CDL, they may be looking for better-paying or “safer” work than being a big-city public transit driver.

    • This isn’t a ‘budget cutting’ measure. There will be no tax relief. Costs are up across the board, so they are consolidating bus services in areas that their supporters live in. Assembly probably just wants to spend that money elsewhere until they can find a way to get around the tax cap. There are pride murals to paint and dams to demolish you know.

      Remember a few years ago when the ASD had to cut school bus routes – where did they start? Middle class and wealthier neighborhoods. This is the People Mover version of that.

      • I heard from a very reliable source on the inside the mothballed buses will be converted into high end motorhomes for the homeless to reduce the moving expenses when the muni has to go in and condemn a camping site due to environmental pollution.
        It is a brilliant idea from Anchorages finest….

    • HA..HA..HA!! AT bus rider’s expense. For all you Car drivers, You have nothing to loose..You can say what your gripes are about the bus system, but IT MEANS NOTHING to those who depend and live with the bus system. They “Shang-hied” the bus system back in 2017 when they scraped a GREAT SERVICE system FOR THE ONE WE HAVE NOW.

    • That what Anchorage needs is more bike lanes and less compassion for the elderly .I hope you rember your comment when your stuck behind a 70 year old woman riding in the middle of the street in winter because the sidewalks aren’t plowed.

    • Bikes of any sort don’t mean and D* thing when you can’t ride a bike for medical or other reasons. AND we DON’T NEED MORE BIKE lanes.. Especially right through the busiest street in the middle of downtown..That was the rottenest and poorest decision made. Why not go thru 7th or 8th street NOT 6th Avenue.

  1. Forcing taxpayers to subsidize transportation for others is wrong. The government should never be in the transportation business. Eliminate all publicly funded public transportation and let the marketplace take over. It is not a legitimate role of government.

    • Do you apply that to all areas of transportation.How about the airlines and railroads last time I check Alaska doesn’t have a state income tax and bonds are voted on.I pay property taxes every year should I have more say on local issues then somebody that rents how about people that don’t have kids why should they have to pay taxes to build schools and for people to get back more in taxes then they pay in to just because they have kids. Alaska has never paid it’s fair share in federal taxes and all of its utilities are subsidize by the federal government directly or indirectly . The Alaska railroad has never made money off of its passenger service the only reason they continue it is because of the subsidize they get for track maintenance and up grades the same goes for bus service in Anchorage .I also know if any of the service there going to cut are outline in past bonds that past then that going to be an issue in till the bonds are paid back ..I add one more thing I not sure how often you drive downtown but the city has add more bike lanes if they cut more bus service you can bet there going to be expanding that program.

      • James, I am really tired of the ” it isn’t fair because AK has no state income tax”….. apples and oranges.
        Alaskans pay federal income tax and business taxes etc. just like any other citizen/business in country into the general federal tax collection. Infrastructure like roads and bridges is the responsibility of the federal government and the state. It appears you have issues with the tax code, you should take it up with the municipality and the IRS and of course your elected officials.
        It needs to be pointed out that most East Coast and Midwest states own the very vast majority of their own state, while the further west you go the more territory is claimed by the federal government. That alone logically would generate more financial need for support of those areas, as states and residents can not utilize territory as they see fit to generate income. Maybe it is time for the federal government to turn over all those lands (excepting of course military installations) they still “hold in trust”.

        As for the bus program, I am all for public transportation if it makes sense, can support itself and is a reliable means of transport, which it appears not to be at this time. So more power to the mayor for cutting what seems a money waster. Am I holding my breath that we the taxpayer will see a break in our property taxes…..not a chance!

      • James, I’ll gladly pay more Federal Taxes and expect less bacon from the Feds, if … they read their Constitution and immediately turn over all of their property within the State to The State of Alaska and its people.
        Federal ownership of Vast Tracts of Land is repugnant to our Constitution.
        I hope this helps.

    • Think about it. People who can’t ot shouldn’t drive because of medicines that impair driving. People with revoked or suspended drivers licenses for DUIs. Seniors who should no longer drive. Do you really want to force groups of people to get in cars and drive? What about the additional traffic and wear and tear in the roads. All modes and methods of transportation is publically subsidized all over the modern world. Even private transportation companies use publicly funded infrastructure. Airports, trains, interstates. Your statement is easy to spout off, but unrealistic.

    • FOR ALL OF YOU WHO IS/ARE AGAINST THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM. You sound so CRUEL to those who must need it.. There ARE people who can’t/drive but still have to live.. and needs transportation to get around. I pay MY TAXES…Most of those riding are NOT homeless, alcoholics or druggies. This msg is for (P.J.Olson,)and many others who spoke against the Anchorage public transportation.

  2. And the LaFrance show begins!!!! Loss of bus service and a 3% sales tax is just the beginning of what’s to come. You dipsticks are going to get what you voted for. Los Anchorage. I wonder what the population of Anchorage would be if all of the city, borough, state and federal employees were deducted and moved out.

    • You do realize that the road you drive on is heavily subsidized also. By the rest of the country. For every dollar AK puts into the Highway Trust Fund we get about $6 back which comes from most other states. Ready to give up the roads too?

      • When I purchase fuel for my vehicles, I pay a tax on every ounce of that fuel. It is put into the highway trust fund.
        When I purchase retail goods, I also pay the tax on the fuel used by the trucks used to transport those goods.
        .
        I pay for the roads, and perhaps the distribution of the money is not proportionate. However, I am paying for the roads.
        .
        On the other hand, when someone pays NOTHING into a transportation system, but rides the buses for free, that is absolutely wrong.
        .
        So, to answer your question, I am not ready to give up roads, because I paid for them. However, I am ready to stop giving people free rides on my dime.

          • Students, elderly, indigent, etc…
            Even if you pay a “fare” it is so heavily subsidized by taxpayer money the amount collected is meaningless.
            .
            If the Air Mover system actually charged what a ride cost, it would be more like $11-$13, not the $2 that is currently charged.
            .
            Do you really think the fares are sufficient to pay for the system?

        • The bus fare is $2 for each bus or $5 for an all day pass, no one is riding for free, even the elderly/disabled have to pay 1/2 price.

          Riding the bus on the current 1/2 run time schedule is also quite difficult. I am disabled and to get to a Dr appt at Providence S,U,or T towers is quite a feat and time consuming. If I have an appointment at 11am, this is the process
          1. Go to bus stop at 9am ride to dimond center
          2. Wait 1/2 hour for 55 bus because it leaves 3 minutes before the bus from my house gets to dimond
          3. Board the 55 to Providence front entrance 20 minute ride.
          4. It is currently about 10:30 and because there are no buses that run to the S,U,T towers, I must enter the main hospital entrance and walk across the sky bridge to the towers in 1/2 hour to my appt.
          5. Have appointment and the the same in reverse hoping you sync up with the bus and aren’t waiting for 1/2 hour in the cold outside the hospital.
          6. Just travel time on the bus/waiting for buses and walking where the buses don’t go is 4 hours total.
          7. This same process in the car only takes 20 minutes each way and no hiking through Providence, so 40-45 minutes in a car compared to at least 4 hours on the bus system.

          It’s no treat and in the winter it can be impossible for the elderly and disabled due to unplowed sidewalks, cold and late buses.

      • Wouldn’t be surprised, seeing how this mob works, to find out bus –service– isn’t the real issue.
        .
        How, for example, are bums and illegal aliens supposed to be chauffered to and from their tiny houses, especially in winter?
        .
        If big, empty buses are bad, why not try little buses, vans for a while, see what happens?
        .
        Barely a month ago loathsome Anchorage Economic Development Corporation parasites waxed orgasmic over how much better great big, spread-out, sales-taxed Oklahoma City does things.
        (‘https://mustreadalaska.com/camels-nose-under-tent-new-mayor-and-a-new-proposed-sales-tax-for-anchorage/)
        .
        But asking Oklahoma City officials how they successfully manage bus service, maybe inviting them to Anchorage to evaluate the bus situation… way, way out of the question, no?
        .
        Such a busy schedule of Assembly leadership prevents Commander Corpulence from squeezing his way onto an OKC-bound jet junket to check out bus service managed by people who know what they’re doing?
        .
        Best guess is the LaFrance regime’s cooking up something behind the scenes to make up for money soon to be going out the door post Eaglexit, something likely to be first of more than a few expensive, unpleasant surprises for remaining productive residents.

    • Huh? Along with publishing drunk drivers & scofflaws who run red lights? The many drivers who spend time on their phones while driving? A pedestrian sees more illegal behavior by drivers than other drivers do. Exactly how will ridership be published? People who ride must sign in before they pay?

  3. The Leftist’s would have burned Bronson at the stake😡 The right is always wrong but the left are little angels 🤪

    • Excuse me? This post and others often complain about La France and the so called “liberal” assembly. Seems to me that it’s the right that is alway complaining about the left.

  4. They will map the areas that supported Mayor Karen by the largest margins.. And preserve the service to those places

    • I just love how everyone around here tries so hard to be pithy, with an end result of saying nothing meaningful or useful. There’s exactly zero chance that increased transit service to Girdwood, South Addition and Turnagain will occur.

  5. Well more money for the homeless and 500,000 toilets but no money for regular residents.
    Crap on the tax payer again.

  6. Getting closer and closer to those 15-minute cities! You’ll stay within the boundaries of your “city” unless you get permission to travel outside of your area.

    • Says the woman who lives in the largest State in the union and can travel anywhere without restriction. Ridiculous comment barely worth the keystrokes I just wasted.

      • You waste just about every keystroke you post. Unless your. Objective is wasting everyone’s time scrolling through your nonsense, cur!

      • Every time a lefty ridicules the truth and indicate that there are no restrictions, you know that the op is telling the truth. Lefties always say exactly what is going to happen and pretend that it is the conservatives or the people on “the right” that are doing it or that it just plain is not going to happen (and it does happen!).

  7. Other cities try this as a means of extorting an increase in funding. If there is no push for additional funds but a call to better organize the system, I am for it. Reliability of times and service are necessary to make it to work or other appointments timely.

  8. Actually no loss. For the 33 years I lived there I think the most I ever saw on a bus was 10 people. Most of the time it was 2-4. Obviously operating at a loss and an expense to the taxpayers. The entire thing should be mothballed.

    • Were you ever a rider? How were you able to count the riders from your vehicle if you were driving responsibly? When I drove I needed to pay attention to the road and other drivers. I would never have been able to count riders in a bus. People with vehicles contribute to all kinds of negatives in urban areas. Reduction in air quality, increased fuel usage, oh, and making it extremely dangerous to walk or bike in Anchorage.

  9. It’s going to be fascinating to watch the devolution of Anchorage in real time.

    Sad, but fascinating.

  10. Portland Or bus system works very well but their busses run every 20 to 30 minutes not every hour and they provide pases to get on the next bus or or lite rail. These tickets are sold for travel within a number of hours or all day. It’s very effective. Anchorage needs this type of system to encourage ridership as well as heated bus stops. Make the driver pay competitive with the better paying CDL jobs. Cutting bus service hurts people who need it the most. Cutting service is very poor decision right out the gate.

    • I hope you werent expecting anything wise from a woman that continually looked to Chris Constant during assembly meetings because she was so lost she didnt know which way to turn until Chris set her straight.

    • Thank you for mentioning the need for heated bus stops! I believe most riders would be appreciative to have even one heated bus stop, the downtown transit center. For the past several years riders have been forced to shiver outside during winter.There are numerous things that could probably be done to increase ridership. Essentially, people who ride bus’s in Anchorage are at the low end of the economic stratum and have the least say. I recently spent several weeks in 2 UK countries and was amazed to see the numbers of people depending on public transportation. Driving is extremely high cost there. Gas prices are way higher than the US. There is a comprehensive camera system to catch drivers who break the laws & drivers receive their tickets in the mail without explanation. I also have a family member who has lived in an EU country for many years and has never needed to own a vehicle. People in much of the world take public transportation for granted and actually use it. When I’ve visited I’ve noticed that most bus’s run every 15 minutes which is reasonable. There are times a bus doesn’t arrive at all for various reasons here in Anchorage so a rider has to leave extremely early for jobs and appts to ensure they actually get to commitments on time. One of the comments here stated that riders ride for free! Apparently there is some extreme misunderstanding out there.

    • If you buy a DAY Pass or your monthly pass, you don’t have to worry about transfers.. Europe has a fantastic transportation system..I lived in Germany for 5 yrs back in the late 70’s and early 80’s..I would have used it more if I had understood German.

  11. What is MayorKaren’s plan for the $700,000+ Magic Lectric Bus Ethan purchased with tax dollars???
    Or is that going to be converted to the Executive Branch’s personal Limousine service so they can tour the city and homeless encampments they created?

  12. The bus system needs to be redefined to improve its on time efficiency and eliminate the overtime expenditures.

    How is this accomplished by hiring more people and ensuring the buses are in good mechanical working order.

    How many buses missed the route times due to mechanical issues and breakdowns?

  13. Get rid of the busses on the low riders hip routes and replace them with 10 passenger vans. No need for a CDL and the service would be leaner, more efficient and much more manouverable in traffic. Win, win

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.