I was in Juneau for a few days in mid-April and during some spare time I checked out the local transit system, Capital Transit. The City and Borough of Juneau is larger than the state of Delaware but it’s home to only about 32,000 people. In Juneau, car ownership and road building is constrained by the fact that there are no roads that connect Juneau to the rest of the world. A 4-lane highway connects central Juneau with the airport and the Big Box stores located near the airport, but that highway doesn’t connect to the outside world. The only way to reach Juneau is by sea or by air. The Subaru Outback station wagon seems to be the most popular vehicle in Juneau and for those who don’t own a car, the local transit system connects just about all the important locations with dependable bus service.
Capital Transit operates 4 basic routes in Juneau:
With those routes, Capital Transit is able to provide service to the most important local destinations with an excellent span of service. The 30/60 minute headways mean a long wait penalty for someone who just misses a bus, but considering the size of the local population base, 30/60 is pretty impressive.
The cruise ship passengers are what support most of the businesses in Juneau. The city’s sidewalks are built wide enough to hold the hordes of Uncle Abners and Aunt Karens that come from all over the world to spend a few hours in town during the summer cruise ship season. Juneau is definitely a tourist trap, but there are some shops that sell very nice locally produced arts and crafts. I was in town just before the cruise ship season began and the stores were fully stocked; I found some really nice works to bring back. The geography of Juneau is very steep but it’s easy to walk anywhere in central Juneau if one is ready for some serious hill climbing. The City has built many metal staircases for pedestrians on the steepest hills that make walking safer on icy days.
If you do arrive in Juneau by air virtually every hotel offers free transfers to and from the airport, but the Express bus would also be an option if you arrive while it is running (M-F 7am-6pm). There also appears to be a van transfer service between the airport and the Big Box area that might connect you with the local bus routes, but the hotel transfer buses are the best option.