New Capital Transit plan boosts Mendenhall Valley bus service

Capital Transit provides between 4,000-4,500 passenger rides each week day. (Photo by Kelli Burkinshaw/KTOO)

Capital Transit provides between 4,000-4,500 passenger rides each week day. (Photo by Kelli Burkinshaw.)

Bus service on Riverside Drive in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley could start by midsummer, if city officials adopt a new Capital Transit plan.

Valley buses also would be rolling 30 minutes earlier each day.

The bus system has been under review for nearly a year and the 2014 Transit Development Plan is now complete.  The CBJ Planning Commission is expected to adopt it Tuesday night.  The Assembly will take it up next month.

Passengers have been asking for earlier and additional service in the Mendenhall Valley since Thunder Mountain High School was built.

Capital Transit Superintendent John Kern says continued growth along Riverside Drive is the impetus behind the proposal for expanded service.

“We did evaluate bus service for the school, again for the pool, and now we’ve got a library going in there,” Kern says. “I think it’s just a matter of the sheer magnitude of facilities on that location, requiring better service.”  

Due to budget constraints, there are tradeoffs. If Riverside Drive is added to the system, bus service on Back Loop Road and North Douglas Highway would be reduced.  Ridership is lower along those routes.

Kern says bus fares would not increase with the new service.

The Capital Transit study began last spring and included a number of public meetings.  Kern says it’s not too late to take public comments on the final proposal.