The People Mover Route 102 providing morning and evening rush hour service between Chugiak-Eagle River and Anchorage may end as of Aug. 2017 should municipal traffic planners’ move forward with one of two proposals re-aligning public transit resources to focus on routes with higher ridership rates.
Under two proposals being presented at community meetings in November, the beleaguered Route 102 with its low ridership productivity as traffic planners describe it will be no more.
“Under those two concepts, Route 102 would no longer exist,” Collin Hodges, a municipal transit planner, told The ECHO News via phone call.
Hodges will be on hand Wed., Nov. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Chugiak-Eagle River Library to present the two proposals and answer questions from community members.
Route 102 has long been the municipality’s route with the lowest ridership. Previous budget cuts have put the route on the chopping block, but municipal traffic planners managed to keep it as part of the People Mover system due to public outcry on behalf of Chugiak-Eagle River residents without other transportation resources.
Those days may be over.
Route 102 has only 16.3 boardings (or people getting on and off the bus) per service hour, according to municipal data. That is significantly lower than the least productive routes in Anchorage that have 25 to 33 boardings per service hour.
In the spring of this year, the municipality’s transit planning folks went through an extensive visioning process gathering data from across the Anchorage Bowl as to the priorities of public transit users.
In the 99-page final report titled “Anchorage Transit Talks: Choices, Outreach and Future Alternatives” of the visioning process issued on Oct. 25, the issue of the municipality’s choice between maximizing ridership versus providing maximum service coverage was addressed.
Transit planners are now embarking on Phase Two of the Anchorage Transit Talks – the “Concept Refinement.”
Hodges stresses that municipal planners have not made the final decision to eliminate Route 102, but instead are presenting two plans – one in which either 80 percent of transit resources are spent on maximizing ridership leaving 20 percent of resources to cover low ridership areas – to the community for input.
However, under the 80 percent ridership max plan and the 100 percent ridership max plan, Route 102 goes away.
It isn’t all bad news for Chugiak-Eagle River transit users, Hodges said.
The Eagle River Connect, a transit offering that is not part of the People Mover system, will remain available, Hodges said. ERC provides a deviated route from the Chugiak-Eagle River area via Dial-A-Ride that users can make reservations for transportation within the Chugiak-Eagle River area and to the ER downtown transit center for connection with the fixed route that runs from there to the Muldoon Transfer Area. ERC costs $3.50 for rides within the Chugiak-Eagle River area and $5.50 for the trip from the ER downtown transit center to Muldoon.
Hodges also expects the planned realignment of routes within Anchorage itself to benefit public transit users from the Chugiak-Eagle River area. “One of the trade-offs within the Anchorage Transit Talks projects is that by focusing on service to high ridership areas, buses will come more often – many of them every 15 minutes within the Anchorage routes,” Hodges said. “With the proposed extended hours on weekdays and weekends, Chugiak-Eagle River commuters will have better service in Anchorage than they currently do. It will be much easier for them to get around the city.”
Hodges said he recognizes the potential loss of People Mover Route 102 may create a challenge for some area riders. He encourages citizens interested in local transit issues to attend the Nov. 16 meeting in the local area.
Route 102 currently runs weekday mornings from 5:25 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. with two stops in Chugiak near the intersections of Eastside and Chickadee and Voyles and Bill Stephens, one stop in Birchwood at the North Birchwood Park and Ride and one stop in Eagle River at the downtown transit center on Business Blvd before continuing on to stops at the Boniface interchange, Anchorage City Hall, the intersections of A Street and 36th Ave., Providence and Alumni drives and the Alaska Native Medical Center. On weekday afternoon and evenings from 3:02 p.m. to 7:13 p.m., Route 102 makes the above stops in reverse order. Route 102 costs $2 per ride.
Learn more about local transit issues and the Anchorage Transit Talks project online at www.muni.org/departments/transit/peoplemover/Pages/transittalks.aspx.