Kodiak will soon have its own bus service. The Kodiak Area Transit System previously served nonprofits and patrons with special needs but, starting February 1, anyone can schedule a ride or join the service in its regular route.
Project Specialist Jonathan Strong says, when Senior Citizens of Kodiak first started researching the project, they decided to do a survey to determine areas of need.
“Transportation to shopping, to medical appointments and to work were some of the big three needs, because we don’t necessarily have a grocery store downtown anymore. And low income families, seniors on fixed incomes – it’s difficult to get to Wal-Mart and Safeway when you live downtown – people who need transportation to the Coast Guard base.”
Strong says they’ll also expand the service to Sunday to accommodate church-goers.
He explains transport costs $2 each way whether or not patrons join a scheduled route or call ahead of time.
“Our riders call the day before, before 5:30 to schedule a ride for the next day, and then what we do is we pick them up. It’s door to door service, and then we also have some scheduled time points throughout the day, Monday through Friday, where riders do not have to call ahead, and they can pick up the bus at any of those time points and go to another scheduled time point.”
Senior Citizens of Kodiak Executive Director, Pat Branson, explains they have a number of partners on the program. They’re working with First Student, a school bus transportation service which will serve as a dispatcher, and they’ve received funding from the Department of Transportation, the Kodiak Island Borough, and the City of Kodiak.
Branson says the dial-a-ride service is an important expansion for Kodiak and invaluable to those who can’t get around by any other means.
“It’s an economic link to this community and to people who need to continue to live here. We want them to continue to live here. We don’t want people leaving, and this is a service that they need in order to continue. Whether they’re working, college, going to the base to work – it’s an economic link – a business in town that they’re working at.”
Branson says it’s a quality of life issue and KATS is an avenue for residents to remain in Kodiak.
“I am very proud that we’re able to continue this, and we’ve struggled with operations for a number of years, but we know the importance – again, reading the surveys from people, brings tears to my eyes to read these surveys and how important it is – and a community of this size, I believe, international port, needs to have some kind of transportation service.”
The service runs Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You can learn more about the system and how it works by attending Business After Hours at the senior center on March 8.