Assembly considers circulator shuttle

Smaller downtown buses would free up service for elsewhere

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A few smaller buses running exclusively in downtown Juneau could come at intervals as frequent as every 10 minutes and free up the city's larger buses for expanding service elsewhere, a public transportation consultant told a Juneau Assembly committee Monday.

Jim Moore, managing partner of Moore and Associates based in Valencia, Calif., described adding new circulator shuttle service to downtown as a "change of gauge." The large buses that Capital Transit uses are too big to serve some parts of downtown that smaller vehicles could serve more efficiently.

Moore was presenting findings of a downtown circulator study the city and Downtown Business Association sought as an extension of the Transit Development Plan the city commissioned from Moore and Associates last year.

That study, paid for with $150,000 in grant money from the Alaska Department of Transportation, led to a 502-page report released in June that examined the entire system, recommended changes, and offered alternatives and analysis.

Moore said he hopes this study remains a document only temporarily and that the city makes the downtown shuttle a reality.

Moore estimated starting the shuttle service would cost $750,000, and that fare revenues in the first year could recoup 15 percent of that. He envisions it running seven days a week in the summer and five days a week the rest of the year.

By coordinating with existing Capital Transit bus routes and eliminating duplication, Moore said one to two large buses could be pulled off their routes. They could be mothballed to save money - their operating costs are higher than that of the small circulator buses - or be put to use to achieve some of the Transit Development Plan's longer-term goals, Moore said.

Members of the Assembly committee quizzed Moore about specifics of the routes, but overall were not critical. They advised the staff to work with Moore and the business association, but made no firm commitments since the presentation was for information only.

City Manager Rod Swope has warned the Assembly that falling revenue will make for a tough budget year.

The city's existing bus service generates about 1.2 million rides per year.

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