Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz announced Friday that the city is suspending its regular People Mover bus service in an effort to improve social distancing and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The city will instead offer on-demand, single-rider transportation to the general public for essential trips only, Berkowitz said. The on-demand service will be fare-free.
The change begins Wednesday and will continue until further notice, according to Jamie Acton, the city’s public transportation director.
“We’re going to move to what’s called a demand-response system. So what that means is we’re still going to be providing essential transportation during this difficult time, but we’re really helping stop the spread of the COVID-19 by limiting essential trips,” Acton said.
The general public will be able to schedule rides for essential purposes only — that means traveling for essential medical appointments, to the pharmacy, for groceries and travel to critical jobs, Acton said.
People wanting to use the service will have to create an account by calling 907-343-6543 or by visiting peoplemover.org. Trips will have to be scheduled one to seven days in advance.
A set number of trips have been set aside for use by seniors and those with disabilities, Acton said.
AnchorRIDES, the city’s curb-to-curb ride service for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, will provide the new service, Acton said.
Berkowitz said the city’s previous limitation, allowing only nine people at a time on the bus, was not doing enough to limit the number of riders.
“Unfortunately we have found that that is not as safe as we want it to be, that we could do more to flatten the curve,” he said.