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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. MACS is part of the borough's transportation department and is the northernmost local bus network in continental North America.

Metropolitan Area Commuter System
MACS logo.png
ParentFairbanks North Star Borough
Headquarters3175 Peger Road, Fairbanks AK 99709 (administration, operations)
501 Cushman Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701 (customer service, dispatch)
LocaleFairbanks, Alaska
Service areaFairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska[2]
Service typebus service
StationsMax C. Lyon Jr. Transit Center
Daily ridership546,490 (annual)[4]
Fuel typeDiesel
WebsiteOfficial site



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 in 1977 with two routes serving the Fairbanks urban area.[1]

A 1978 study recommended offering service to the outlying areas of the borough, including Ester, Chena Ridge Road, Farmers Loop Road and Goldstream Road. The system expanded to serve North Pole, Salcha and Farmers Loop, Fort Wainwright and other areas of the Fairbanks area.[1] The system now operates 9 routes,[3] and travels over 777,559 miles every year.[4]


Max C. Lyon, Jr. Transit Center in downtown Fairbanks.
Blue Line bus laying over at the Transit Center.

MACS has nine fixed routes identified by color.[3] The Red and Blue Lines provide loop service around urban Fairbanks in opposing directions, while the other routes connect to more outlying destinations. Only the Gray 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.[2]

No service is provided on Sundays and holidays. Some routes also lack service on Saturdays.[3]

Route Major Destinations Schedule
 Blue Line  Walmart Mall, College Road/Diane, Aurora/Tamarak, UAF Wood Center, UAF Museum, Fred Meyer West, Pioneer Park, Carlson Center, Shoppers Forum [1]
 Brown Line  C & Eureka, Bently Mall, Fred Meyer East [2]
 Gold Line  Arctic Light Elementary School, Frontier Lodge, Bassett Hospital [3]
 Gray Line  Fred Meyer East, McGrath Road to Town and Country Mobile Home Park, Summit Drive, Grenac Road, Scenic Loop, Ballaine Road, UAF Wood Center [4]
 Green Line  Old Richardson/South Cushman, McPeaks, Badger/Nordale, North Pole Mall, North Pole HS, North Pole Middle School/Wescott Pool, Santa Claus House, Beaverbrook Mall, Badger/Nordale, McPeaks [5]
 Orange Line  Big Dipper Ice Arena, FNA Head Start, Van Horn & Lathrop, Transit Admin. Offices, Jillian Square, Fred Meyer West [6]
 Purple Line  Easy Street, 23rd & Lathrop, Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital [7]
 Red Line  Shoppers Forum, Fred Meyer West, University/Sandvik, UAF Wood Center, Aurora/Tamarack, Helmricks Street/Mt Mckinley Bank [8]
 Yellow Line  Fred Meyer West, Fairbanks International Airport, UAF Wood Center, University West [9]


Fare category[5] Single Ride Day Pass Monthly Pass Half-month Pass
Adult US $1.50 US $3 US $40 US $20
Reduced fare US $0.75 US $2 US $20

Reduced fare rides are offered to youth (ages 6 to 18), individuals with Medicare or Medicaid cards, active duty military servicemembers and their dependents, and those with qualifying disabilities.[5]

Free fare rides are offered to seniors, children (ages 0-5), and University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty, staff and students. Seniors must show government issued photo identification or a senior card available from the Borough Administrative Center, while students must be enrolled in the current semester and show their Polar Express cards to the driver to ride for free.[5]


The fleet consists of ten Gillig Low Floor buses, seven demand response vehicles used by the Van Tran service, and one commuter bus.[4] Six of the Gillig buses are due to be replaced at the end of their service life in 2017.[6]

Van TranEdit

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.[7]

In 2011, an effort was initiated to privatize Van Tran.[8] Spearheaded by conservative Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly members Diane Hutchinson and Michael Dukes, the system's cost, estimated at between US $67.37[4] and $76[9] per ride, was cited as justification. However, a study commissioned by the Borough Assembly found that privatization would only result in minor cost savings,[10] and no action towards privatization was taken.


  1. ^ a b c "MACS Bus History". Fairbanks North Star Borough Government. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  2. ^ a b "MACS Bus System Map" (PDF). Fairbanks North Star Borough Government. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  3. ^ a b c d "MACS Bus Routes - Maps and Schedules". Fairbanks North Star Borough Government. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  4. ^ a b c d e "MACS Bus Fleet Information" (PDF). Federal Transit Administration, United States Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  5. ^ a b c "MACS Bus Fare Information". Fairbanks North Star Borough Government. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  6. ^ "Transportation Improvement Program Project Nomination Form" (PDF). Fairbanks Metropolitan Area Transportation System (FMATS). Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  7. ^ "Fairbanks, Alaska Van Tran". Fairbanks North Star Borough Government. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  8. ^ "Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly looks at privatizing Van Tran". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  9. ^ "Fairbanks Borough Ride Service for Disabled in Jeopardy". Alaska Public Radio. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  10. ^ News-Miner, Matt Buxton/ Fairbanks Daily. "Study: Privatizing Van Tran service would save little". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Retrieved 2018-02-06.

External linksEdit