The Anchorage City Explorer wrapped up summer service on September 2, 2023. The free transportation service was designed to help visitors and residents explore some of the community's key attractions that are beyond walking distance from downtown. The service allowed passengers quick access to three major attractions from Fourth Avenue, without the need to return to their starting point in between each stop.
Service ran Monday through Saturday from May 15 to September 2, 2023, Picking up and dropping off at four locations: downtown at the Log Cabin Visitor Information Center, at Alaska Aviation Museum, Alaska Zoo, and the Alaska Botanical Garden. The first departure downtown was 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 11:40 a.m. on Saturdays. The final return trip downtown was at 6:20 p.m. on all six days of the week.
Seating was on a first come, first served basis, with the route promoted in the Visitor Information Centers, flyers, rack cards, and sandwich boards at stop locations at each attraction. The project budget was supported entirely by ARPA grant funds awarded to Visit Anchorage by the Municipality of Anchorage.
The service was operated by Pacific Alaska Tours. The company was awarded contract via RFP in early 2023. The selection process anonymized respondents, then utilized an outside panel to score/select winning proposal.
In total, ACE picked up 2,028 passengers downtown. Totals of 299 debarked at the Alaska Aviation Museum, while 1,537 debarked Alaska Zoo, and another 519 stepped off at the Alaska Botanical Garden.
Based off passenger numbers and a conservative estimate on average admission prices, ACE passengers would have been more than $36,000 in revenue for the attractions.
Passenger numbers suggest approximately 20% of riders may have visited more than one stop on their journey. Since the service operated as a hop-on, free service with no need to book in advance, it’s not clear how many passengers may have used the service only one way.