Capital Transit gave more than a million rides in Juneau last year.
If you’re a regular passenger, or have never taken a bus before, your input is important to the capital city bus system.
The CBJ-operated service is updating its development plan and holding two public meetings this week as well as conducting an online survey.
The Transit Development Study is updated every five years. City planner Ben Lyman calls it an improvement plan for the system.
“We’re looking at which stops need to be improved or changed, which types of vehicles need to be purchased, what types of maintenance issues we’re having,” Lyman says. “We’re looking at on-time performance, the needs of existing riders, and also we’re looking at perceptions about the system by non-riders. Why do people who could ride transit choose not to, and what might encourage them to do so?”
Lyman says the study analyzes existing performance through the eyes of riders as well as financing, costs per vehicle mile and per passenger, and other operational accounting.
“We had surveyors ride on all of the routes a month or so ago and conduct surveys of riders and look at where each and every person gets on or off of the bus,” he says.
They also were looking at transfers. “Now we’re taking that information and trying to figure out if Capital Transit is operating as efficiently as it could be,” he says.
Meilani Schijvens of Sheinberg Associates is working on the study with transportation consultants Nelson/Nygaard. Schijvens says ridership increased 5 percent in the past year.
“We surveyed over 11-hundred passengers and the number one complaint is it’s too crowded. So in a way they’re (Capital Transit) doing a very good job, almost too good of a job,” she says.
In addition to the onboard ridership survey, Schijven says consultants conducted interviews with various employers, the university, Tlingit and Haida Housing Authority, and other entities. Now it’s time for an online survey and two open houses.
The first is Tuesday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Mendenhall Valley Library. Wednesday’s open house is at the Downtown Library, also from 4 to 6: 30 p.m.
Lyman says transportation consultants often look for bus system similarities in other communities, but Juneau doesn’t easily compare. That’s because it’s such a linear system.
“We’re set up sort of ideally for transit because it’s very easy to serve that linear development with a single bus line. If we were a big sprawling area with multiple centers and many different residential areas, it’d be much harder to choreograph how people could move through that community,” he says. “Most places don’t have the geographic constraints that we have with mountains on one side and ocean on another so they end up being much more sprawling than what we are here in Juneau.”
Capital Transit operates 18 buses that have 150 stops; 44 of them have shelters.