Proposed bus route changes upsetting to Juneau riders

Seniors and the disabled make up 20 percent of riders

Posted: Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Robert Muroe is concerned about how the proposed changes in downtown bus routes will affect his life. Muroe, 59, takes the bus every day from his house on 11th Street to visit his friends in Douglas or do his shopping in the Mendenhall Valley. He doesn't own a vehicle and he has trouble walking because his legs are numb from nerve damage.

"I like taking the bus, especially when things get out of hand and I need some fresh air," Muroe said. "The bus service got the best small transit system in the nation last year because it cared about its patrons. Now they are decimating the customers."

Muroe is counted among the 100,000 bus rides logged every month in Juneau. About 20 percent of the passengers are seniors and people of disabilities like Muroe.

To streamline the downtown bus routes, Capital Transit proposed closing the Pocket Park bus stop on South Franklin Street and picking up passengers only at Main and Front streets.

"We want everybody to come to Main Street to catch the bus," said John Kern, general manager of Capital Transit. "Right now, the buses have to come through Franklin Street and we will lose about five to 10 minutes on a route. If we can have everybody come to Main Street, it makes boarding and leaving downtown more efficiently and timely."

Capital Transit also proposes having bus drivers take a break at a temporary location on Front Street and stopping bus services at the cruise shop dock.

Many residents spoke against the changes at an Assembly meeting on Monday. The Assembly called a special meeting on Tuesday to address these people's concerns. In the meeting, City Manager Rod Swope requested that Assembly members give him and the staff two more days to find a better solution.

"I understand you want to provide bus service in downtown area and I will figure out how to make it work," Swope told Assembly members. "It is my job to take care of the problem."

The mayor and Assembly members accepted Swope's suggestion. Until the city manager proposes a better plan, the bus routes will remain the same.

Riders like Muroe are happy to hear that, for now.

"I wish they would keep it the way it is," Muroe said. "Changing the routes would be a hardship on people and (Capital Transit) wouldn't get a medal this year."

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