Angel Patterson-Moe and Natalie Norris stand in front of one of their Red Eye Rides vehicles in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Angel Patterson-Moe and Natalie Norris stand in front of one of their Red Eye Rides vehicles in Seward, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Seward’s Red Eye Rides marks 2 years of a ‘little idea’ to connect communities

Around two years ago, Angel Patterson-Moe drove in the middle of the night from Seward to Anchorage and back to pick up Natalie Norris. It’s a roughly six-hour drive round trip, and one they said they saw friends and family making regularly to support travel to the Anchorage’s airport or healthcare facilities.

It was that night, Patterson-Moe said, that she and Norris resolved to start their own shuttle service. They came up with the name Red Eye Rides that night, got their licensing, and picked up a used school bus from Delta Junction soon after.

“We went to Ace Hardware, bought some safety red and painted it in my front yard,” Patterson-Moe said on Wednesday, standing outside that same bus, which has since broken down and now serves as the Red Eye Rides office in Seward.

Patterson-Moe and Norris will celebrate two years of operating Red Eye Rides on Sunday.

In those two years, Red Eye Rides has grown from an on-call charter service to a bustling scheduled commuter bus — now operating six rigs with three regular shuttles that run as often as every day in the summer months. They transport people between Seward and Anchorage, with service available to Moose Pass or to Cooper Landing as well.

Red Eye Rides also offers a shuttle service in Seward for cruise ship passengers and a service for fishers who need to get to either Seward Harbor or Miller’s Landing. Private charters are also available.

What started as a “little idea” two years ago, Norris said, has exploded into “so much.”

Where once they operated a small bus that they had to paint themselves, now they drive big Chevrolet Express vans with bright red wrapping and cartoon wildlife on the side.

They started out as a primarily on-call service but quickly shifted to a daily scheduled model.

“Our timetables were crossing,” Patterson-Moe said. “Take one person at noon — we couldn’t pick up three people at four.”

Now, the shuttle picks up in Seward at 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., and in Anchorage at 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Growth has been fast, Patterson-Moe said, but they haven’t been able to help it.

“The demand is there,” she said. “The community supports it.”

Norris said she hadn’t realized just how great the need was — both from people who don’t want to drive themselves to Anchorage but also from people who can’t make that trip on their own for various reasons.

Patterson-Moe said they’re solving problems that they didn’t know existed at first, but that now they’re eager to continue being a part of that solution.

“The people we take up are important to us,” she said.

To that end, both Patterson-Moe and Norris traveled to Kenai last week to be a part of the Second Annual Kenai Peninsula Transportation Gaps + Solutions meeting.

There, Norris told a group representing transportation and government entities from around the peninsula that they’re working to better connect communities — starting with linking people on the Eastern Kenai Peninsula to other transportation options and specialized healthcare.

She said they’re going to continue pushing and looking for ways to meet the transportation needs of the Kenai Peninsula. They’re exploring options to expand service to the Western Kenai Peninsula in the fall.

For more information about Red Eye Rides, visit redeyeridesllc.com or find “Red Eye Rides, LLC” on Facebook.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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