PUBLISHED: 12:29 PM on Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Survey: Alaskans satisfied with DOT

Results of a statewide poll of Alaskans on a wide range of questions about the services provided by the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities show a high level of satisfaction. The polling sample of 1,200 residents from urban and rural areas was the first one done for DOT in about five years.

The survey, conducted in May by Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore, provides good information for the department to use in shaping its operations in the coming years, said DOT Commissioner Mike Barton.

"The survey shows a good correlation between what we are doing right and the resulting approval rating of 80 percent," Barton said. "At the same time, it shows where we need to put more concentrated effort - such as fixing more potholes - which is generally reflected in a small minority of respondents who said they were dissatisfied with DOT."

Some highlights of the poll numbers show the following for highways ("satisfied" includes "somewhat satisfied" and "very satisfied," while "not" includes "somewhat dissatisfied" and "very dissatisfied"):

Warning signs for construction, detours, traffic conditions 91% satisfied 7% not

Clearing of brush along roadsides 85% satisfied 13% not

Bridges that are safe, wide enough, and in good condition 82% satisfied 11% not

Overall condition of the roads and highways used most often 73% satisfied 26% not

Adequate snow plowing, sanding, ice removal 73% satisfied 25% not

Timeliness of snow plowing, sanding, ice removal 71% satisfied 26% not

Road maintenance - quick and complete 61% satisfied 36% not

Congestion-free traffic flow 55% satisfied 42% not

Rut-free road surface 44% satisfied 52% not

The majority of respondents showed support for Governor Frank Murkowski's initiatives to build access roads to resource development in rural Alaska.

Access roads on the North Slope 53% support 35% oppose 12% don't know

Access roads on the Alaska Peninsula 49% support 36% oppose 15% don't know

Access roads in other rural areas 56% support 31% oppose 13% don't know

The survey also asked about use of the Anchorage and Fairbanks International Airports, and showed a very high level of satisfaction with both facilities.

Efficiency of travel through airport 90% satisfied ANC 88% satisfied FAI

Conducive to a pleasant travel experience 93% satisfied ANC 87% satisfied FAI

Facilities and amenities 91% satisfied ANC 84% satisfied FAI

Pollsters made a note of every suggestion respondents gave for changes they would like to see at the two international airports. These ranged from wanting more restrooms and food courts to less congestion at security checkpoints and providing an inside smoking area.

The survey showed that 15 percent of respondents had used the Alaska Marine Highway System in the past 12 months, for a multitude of purposes, from pleasure and business trips to moving and social events. Of those ferry users, 87 percent were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their overall experience, and 75 percent were satisfied that they got very good or fairly good value for the money they spent.

"Even though the ferry system has been going through a transitional period, we are heartened by the survey results that show a loyalty and high level of satisfaction with the overall experience," Barton said. "We recognize that going into the fall-winter-spring schedule will require us to pay close attention to what our customers want, and we will certainly try to deliver ferry service that is as frequent and convenient as possible. And, while most ferry users indicate they believe they are getting good value for their money, we are still looking at some discounts for the off-season."

The survey also asked questions about the use of bicycle and walking paths (86% satisfied), participation in the public process to determine statewide and regional transportation plans (a low rate of 3-6%), support for the use of roadside weed-killers (53% support, 37% oppose), knowledge and use of the 511 Travel-in-the-Know system (7%) and RWIS - the Road Weather Information System (41% had heard of it, but only 14% had used it), and the use and usefulness of the DOT website for obtaining information about DOT (28% had used it, while 88% of the users found what they were looking for).

"Although it has been several years since our last customer satisfaction survey was done, I think it is important to use these polls to periodically check and see if DOT is on the right road, so to speak," Barton said.