Recycling, bus service successes are real progress

Posted: Monday, July 02, 2001

As Juneau grows and changes, it's often the little things that improve our quality of life.

Recycling paper and riding the bus offer benefits many of us would like to take advantage of - unless doing so is a lot of trouble. If recycling requires a drive across town, we're less likely to do it. If we have to wait 45 minutes to an hour in the rain for a bus, we probably won't do that either, if we have a choice.

Some recent changes - we consider them advances - are making it easier to recycle and to use public transportation.

The first change is an agreement between the city and Gastineau Human Services, a local nonprofit agency, to restart pickup of newsprint and white paper for recycling this week.

That means the reopening of collection containers at the Foodland Shopping Center parking lot downtown and the Fred Meyer lot, on the way to the Mendenhall Valley. These work well for recycling your home or small office's pile of white paper and newsprint. (There also are drop-off containers for paper - as well as aluminum, tin, glass and cardboard - at the landfill's recycling center.)

Businesses and offices that generate a lot of paper can also arrange with GHS for regular pickup. We do it here at the Empire and it helps keep our floors clear. The paper is barged south for recycling, which is a lot better than using it to fill the local landfill or fuel its incinerator.

We appreciate the effort of the city, GHS and Waste Management/Capitol Disposal to get this program back on track after a temporary shutdown.

The second change is the institution of half-hour bus service - year round - on regular routes between the Mendenhall Valley, Douglas and downtown.

According to Capital Transit, valley route ridership is up 20 percent since the service began, while the passenger numbers on the Douglas runs were up about 33 percent.

Proponents of public transportation long have advocated increased bus service as a way to reduce traffic and air pollution. They've pointed out that people are more willing to use the bus when it's more convenient. And that usually means more frequent runs.

We're appreciative of efforts by Capital Transit and the Juneau Assembly, which authorized the funding, to make half-hour service available.

The additional summer service is funded by cruise ship passenger fees, a good use since visitors off the ships and crew members help fill the buses during the tourist season.

The Assembly took the extra step last month to make half-hour service year-round. Continuation was contingent on a 10 percent increase in ridership. So far, including all runs, ridership is up about 14 percent.

These small, collaborative steps represent a kind of progress we all can embrace.

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