Juneau's young people have been riding the bus more since Capital Transit cut its youth fares last year.
They've also been buying more monthly passes, Capital Transit Manager John Kern said. The city's bus system dropped the price of a youth monthly pass from $18 to $10 in August.
"For those months in which the new youth pass was implemented, starting in August 2002, the pass sales more than doubled for each month," he said this week. "The most dramatic month was October (2002). We sold 458 youth passes. In October 2001 we sold 193."
The Juneau School District's Community Advisory Committee last year asked the city to let kids ride the bus free to encourage participation in after-school activities. As a compromise, Juneau Assembly members approved the lower youth fares and gave the committee $3,500 in free bus passes and tokens to distribute.
The new youth passes are available for young people age 6 to 18. Children 5 and under ride the bus free if they're with an adult. A monthly adult pass costs $30.
Because of high demand for afternoon downtown-to-Mendenhall Valley express trips, Capital Transit added buses at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m., Kern said.
"We hope we'll be able to keep the Valley expresses through the summer," he said. "We'll watch the ridership after school gets out."
Capital Transit expected to see its overall revenues drop by $6,500 because of the lower-priced youth passes. In reality, the opposite has happened, Kern said.
"We found a point where people are very willing to buy the pass," he said. "Eighteen (dollars) was a significant discount from the $30 adult pass, but at $10 people will come in the middle of the month and buy a youth pass."
For example, October youth pass revenue increased from $3,474 in 2001 to $4,580 in 2002.
Revenues systemwide also are beating projections. Capital Transit had expected to make $525,000 this fiscal year from bus passes, token sales and individual fares, but total revenues should reach $625,000, in part because of half-hour service instituted in 2001, Kern said. The bus system's total budget this year is about $3.4 million, with about $2.4 million coming from the city's general fund.
Capital Transit also cut the price of a one-way youth trip from $1.25 to $1, but isn't able to calculate those revenues separately. The bus system offers a reduced-price monthly bus pass to full-time University of Alaska Southeast students for $18.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.