Roughly 30% of the energy consumed in the U.S. is in the transportation sector. About half of this energy is used by light-use vehicles such as passenger cars and trucks. By reducing the amount you and your household drive, you can make a positive impact on the environment while saving money.
Obviously, the less you drive the longer your tank lasts. Reducing the amount you drive reduces wear and tear on your vehicle and results in lower maintenance costs and a longer vehicle life. You can also see savings of up to 15% off your premiums for vehicle insurance if you reduce or eliminate the daily commute. Insurance premiums usually divide commute distances into three price brackets: less than 3 miles, less than 15 miles, and over 15 miles. Talk to your insurance company to see how much you can save by reducing the amount you drive.
There are several ways you can reduce the amount you drive. If you are moving to a new home, look for a house or apartment within easy walking or biking distance of your place of employment. If this is impractical, consider alternatives such as public transportation, park and rides, or car/van pooling. For more information about alternative transportation options in the Alaska city centers, please see below.
Some public transit options are tax deductible. Employers can save money on their taxes by offering commuter fringe benefits such as bus passes or by paying for parking at park-and-ride locations. Employees can also claim transportation deductions. For more information on how to do so, you can call the Anchorage Share-A-Ride Office at (907) 343-8435 or visit their website.
Biking – Anchorage currently has 8.1 miles of designated bicycle lanes, 166 miles of shared-use pathways, and 38 miles of greenbelt trails. The Anchorage Bike Plan proposes an additional 70 miles of bike lanes and pathways to better connect areas throughout the Anchorage Bowl. Local bicycle shops offer biking maps that identify bike lanes, multi-use pathways, and bike-friendly roads to assist with trip planning. The Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage website is an excellent resource with news, tips, and events for bikers both new and experienced. Off the Chain is a community co-op that offers bike services, parts, and loans in exchange for donations.
Public Transit – Anchorage’s People Mover bus system provides bus service throughout the Anchorage Bowl seven days a week year-round, excluding certain holidays. All buses are equipped with bike racks, and park and rides are available at the Eagle River, Muldoon, and Dimond Transit Centers. Monthly passes cost $50, with discounts for children, seniors, and disabled customers. APU, UAA, and Charter College students ride free with a valid student ID.
Ride Share – Car or van pooling is an excellent way to cut down on the overall number of cars on the road. Craigslist Alaska hosts a ride-share section where individuals can search for others interested in reducing the amount of miles driven per week. Anchorage’s People Mover website also provides information about the municipal Share-A-Ride program, which offers a confidential car-pool matching service and rents out vans for use by large ride-share parties.
Fairbanks hosts an annual summer-long “Don’t Be Fuelish” program in which businesses and agencies compete to save the most fossil fuel. The idea is to walk, bike, run, carpool or bus to work instead of driving and to track the results throughout the entire Fairbanks North Star Borough. Awards are presented to businesses, agencies and individuals following the end of the competition in September.
Biking – Fairbanks has many multi-use trails used for biking year round. Contact the Fairbanks Cycling Club for more information and commuter tips.
Public Transit – The MACS bus system provides service throughout Fairbanks and to North Pole Monday through Saturday year-round, excluding holidays. Monthly passes cost $36 for adults, though UAF student and staff ride for free with a valid ID. A park and ride is already open at Wendel Avenue and money to begin the construction of a park and ride for North Pole was appropriated in 2008, with an estimated completion date of 2012.
Ride Share – No city-sponsored ride-share program exists in Fairbanks at this time. Craigslist or other classified advertising sites may offer some ride-shares.
Biking - Juneau offers a number of trails for biking and bike-friendly roads. You can find detailed explanation of where to bike in Juneau here or contact the Juneau Freewheelers Biking Club for more information.
Public Transit – Juneau’s bus system provides service from Auke and Mendenhall Lakes to Douglas seven days a week year-round, excluding holidays. Monthly passes cost $36 for adults, with discounts for children, elderly, disabled, low-income, and student riders. Bicycle racks are provided on the bus.
Ride Share – No city-sponsored ride-share program exists in Juneau at this time. Craigslist or other classified advertising sites may offer some ride-shares.