Metropolitan Area Commuter System

Metropolitan Area Commuter System
Parent Fairbanks North Star Borough
Founded 1977
Headquarters 3175 Peger Road, Fairbanks AK 99709 (administration, operations)
501 Cushman Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701 (customer service, dispatch)
Locale Fairbanks, Alaska
Service area Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska
Service type bus service
Routes 6
Website Official site

Metropolitan Area Commuter System (MACS) is a public transport agency in Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska. The agency provides bus service for much of the urbanized Fairbanks Metropolitan Statistical Area, the northernmost such area in the US. MACS is part of the borough's transportation department.


Prior to the formation of MACS, the public transit needs of Fairbanks were served, if at all, mostly by private operators. The longest-lasting of these was University Bus Lines, operated by Paul Greimann, Sr. University Bus Lines primarily provided service to and from Fairbanks, the University of Alaska campus, and Ladd Air Force Base, now Fort Wainwright.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough began exploring the possibilities of offering public transit during the 1970s, when the population and economy of Fairbanks began exploding in conjunction with the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Voters in the City of Fairbanks voted in 1976 to allow operation of transit buses by the FNSB over the streets of Fairbanks. The system began operating the following year.

A 1978 study recommended offering service to the outlying areas of the borough, including Ester, Chena Ridge Road, Farmers Loop Road and Goldstream Road. These routes were implemented briefly during the mid-1980s, when abundant oil revenues to state government were readily available to Alaskan communities. Another route, serving Chena Hot Springs Road, was started by a private contractor and lasted somewhat longer, but still fell to budget cuts along with the aforementioned routes.


Max C. Lyon, Jr. Transit Center in downtown Fairbanks.
Blue Line bus laying over at the Transit Center. The system has operated Gillig Corporation buses nearly exclusively since 1983.

As with University Bus Lines, the core of MACS service has always been between downtown Fairbanks and the UAF campus. In general, the service has largely focused upon the cities of Fairbanks and North Pole and adjacent urbanized areas.

MACS has six fixed routes identified by color. The red and blue routes provide loop service around urban Fairbanks in opposing directions, while the other routes connect to more outlying destinations. Only the Grey line does not connect to the Transit Center or overlap with other routes, requiring a transfer from either University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) or Fred Meyer East to connect to other routes.

Routes should not be confused with the same colored shuttle routes on the UAF campus, where blue and red routes of both systems stop.

Name Streets Served Major Destinations Schedule
Blue Line 7th Ave, Noble St, Old Steese Hwy, Helmericks Ave, College Rd, Danby St, Wembley St, Aurora Dr, Yukon Dr, Tanana Loop, Thompson Dr, Geist Rd, University Ave, Rewak Dr, Airport Way, Kennicott St, Cowles St Downtown, Johansen Shopping Centers, Railroad Depot, U of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks Museum, Pioneer Park, Shoppers Forum 645AM-725PM every 15–30 minutes, and 725PM-845PM every 60–80 minutes on weekdays
645AM-945PM every 15–90 minutes on Saturdays
Green Line 6th Ave, Cushman St, Old Richardson Hwy, Badger Rd, Holmes Rd, Dennis Rd, St. Nicholas Dr, Santa Claus Ln, E. 8th Ave Downtown, North Pole Mall, Santa Claus Park, Beaverbook Mall 605AM-752PM every 60–90 minutes
915AM-515PM every 90 minutes on Saturdays
Grey Line Helmericks Ave, Old Seese Hwy, Farmers Loop Rd, McGrath Rd, Tanana Loop Johansen Shopping Centers, U of Alaska-Fairbanks 3 AM rush hour trips and 3 PM rush hour trips per weekday
Purple Line Cushman St, Van Horn Rd, Easy St, Old Richardson Hwy, 23rd Ave, Cowles St, Gillam Way, Airport Way, 6th Ave, 10th Ave, Farewell Ave, C St, Baranof Ave, College Rd, Helmericks Ave, Old Steese Hwy, Lacey St Behavioral Hospital, Fairbanks Central Hospital, Downtown, Bentley Mall, Johansen Shopping Centers 630AM-915PM every 45–75 minutes, and 615PM-815PM every 60 minutes on weekdays
845AM-715PM every 60 minutes on Saturdays
Red Line 5th Ave, Cowles St, Kennicott St, Airport Way, Wilbur St, 2nd Ave, Rewak Dr, University Ave, Tanana Loop, College Road, Aurora Dr, Wembley Ave, Danby St, Helmericks Ave, Old Steese Hwy, Noble St Downtown, Shopper's Forum, Pioneer Park, Carlson Center, U of Alaska-Fairbanks, Railroad Depot, Johansen Shopping Centers 615AM-615PM every 30 minutes, and 615PM-815PM every 60 minutes on weekdays
915AM-615PM every 60 minutes on Saturdays
Yellow Line 7th Ave, Barnette St, 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, Wilbur St, Airport Way, Peger Rd, Davis Rd, University Ave, Dale Rd, Yukon Dr, Tanana Loop, Thompson Dr, Geist Rd, Chena Pump Rd, Dartmouth Dr, Steelhead Rd, Palo Verde Ave, Trinidad Dr, Amherst Dr Downtown, Carlson Center, Pioneer Park, Fairbanks Int'l Airport, U of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks Museum 615AM-615PM every 30 minutes, and 615PM-815PM every 60 minutes on weekdays
915AM-615PM every 60 minutes on Saturdays


Fare category Single ride Day pass Monthly Pass
Adult US $1.50 US $3.00 US $36
Youth US $0.75 US $2.00 US $18
Active military US $0.75 US $2.00 US $18
Seniors (60+) US $0.75 US $2.00 US $18
Disabled US $0.75 US $2.00 US $18

Tokens are also available from machines located at transfer points and the downtown transit center, costing $5 for five tokens, offering a savings of $0.50 per ride off adult fares.

Rides are offered free to University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty, staff and students with a PolarExpress student ID card.

Van Tran

While all MACS vehicles are wheelchair accessible, the transit system also operates van service for patrons unable to use the standard bus services. Vans provide door to door service. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, service is prioritized by one's ADA status, not necessarily by need.

In 2011, an effort was initiated to privatize Van Tran. Spearheaded by conservative FNSB Assembly members Natalie Howard and Michael Dukes, the system's approximately $76 (US) per-ride cost was cited as justification. In the end, the system was left intact during budget deliberations, though this is expected to become a political issue in Fairbanks in the coming years.

External links

  • Official website

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