SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


KETCHIKAN BOROUGH Airporter BUS.. A Solution?
By Gigi Pilcher


February 11, 2007
Sunday PM

I have debated with myself for weeks whether or not to write this letter but after reading Mr. Ellis's letter I gave in to that little voice inside me. I am not as articulate or pithy as the esteemed esquire but I'll try not to digress to far off track.

My idea would be to utilize a LSV (low speed vehicle) such as a Gem, a NEV, or other LSV to transport folks from the Ketchikan side down to the ferry, up to the airport and back. A LSV can be built (and already exists) that can transport up to 15 people. Tolleys can be added to increase space if needed.

Folks could use their own car to get to the ferry parking lot, the Borough Bus, a taxi, the Water Taxi, or by tour bus. Those who still wish to drive over in their own vehicles could still do so.

There are multiple advantages of using a LSV for such a purpose.

Smaller than a regular vehicle allowing for more room on the ferry

Fuel efficient. Gas models use 1 quart of gas an hour. Electric models costs pennies a day to operate.

One very teeny tiny step by one branch of our local government towards doing our part to reduce dependence on oil.

Low speed vehicle must meet all Federal and State safety standards, Be licensed in the State.

A LSV must be capable of traveling at least 25 miles an hour but cannot exceed 25 miles an hour.

Low Speed Vehicles are legal all over Alaska with the exception of the City of Ketchikan where they are banned.

Mayor Bob and the City Council prefer much larger gas/oil burning vehicles that can exceed
25 miles an hour in downtown Ketchikan despite the speed limit being 20 miles an hour. They do NOT want anything that remotely resembles a toy or that could possibly reduce traffic congestion.

Just think, if you wanted for your own personal use to own a Zenn or a Gem to drive to the post office or to the doctor's office the City of Ketchikan has banned YOU from doing it! A vehicle that would only cost you between $9,000.00 to $15,000.00 to purchase, economical and "clean" to operate.

Sadly, because of the ban, Ketchikan lost out on the opportunity to become the first LSV small manufacturing plant in Alaska in addition to having a LSV shuttle service in the downtown area.

I would hope that perhaps the Borough/Airport might be more willing to think "outside the box" to solve the Airport bus dilemma. I would happy to address or provide more information on LSV's. I will add a few interesting links below to give folks some ideas about their looks, safety, and usage. To date over 38 states have passed LSV laws. Other countries have been using them for years, and Canada has been testing their use and entered the market.

Now that I have that off my mind, I want to address one other item of personal interest. There has been lots of concern express by folks over the traffic congestion downtown during tour season because of the buses. With the new floats going in and the nice new promenade I would have thought that the "great minds" would have looked to the future. There are going to be folks off those ships that are going to have a hard time walking or pushing wheelchairs down the promenade. On real rainy days folks are going to stay on the ship instead of walking in the down pour to go shopping. Being physically disabled myself these days, I really appreciate wheel chairs and electric carts
at airports.

Those nice new promenades sure would make a great track for the ULTRA (Urban Light Transport) PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). This is something that should be explored for the future. Not only for the dock area but it could run from Saxman to the KIC Tribal Clinic/Ketchikan General Hospital . They can run with or without track. Elevated or not and could even run along side the Third Ave. By-Pass. The system could be used all year and replace the Borough bus. It's possible that both KIC and Saxman could look into the 2005 Indian Reservation Roads program to see if they would qualify for funding.

Gigi Pilcher
Ketchikan, AK

Received February 11, 2007 - Published February 11, 2006

About: " Reindeer caretaker and SITNEWS fan"

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Ketchikan, Alaska