Iowa City Approves Transit Study, All-New Bus Lines For Fall

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – The Iowa City Council this week approved 13 new bus lines that prioritize frequency and efficiency. The routes were the end result of a two-year transit study aimed at increasing ridership in support of the city’s climate goals.

The main attraction of the new routes is that there will be less time between buses.

“We have heard loud and clear from the public: they want more frequent buses,” said transport director Darian Nagle-Gamm.

In the current structure, six of the 20 routes run hourly during the busiest hours. Each of the 13 new routes will run at least every 30 minutes during peak periods, including two every 15 to 20 minutes.

Nagle-Gamm admits that when you design a new transport grid with the same budget, there must be some sacrifices. They’ve gone to great lengths to ensure that every Iowa City address is within 0.25 miles of a bus stop, but that hasn’t been possible in all areas.

The less traveled routes have been removed and absorbed by new routes. There are now only 13 routes instead of 20. An area where it is now more difficult to catch a bus is the Manville Heights neighborhood, north of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and west of City Park.

“There were greater needs in other parts of the city,” Nagle-Gamm said.

She points out that one of the reasons for the loss of seven routes is that they removed areas where they overlapped with Coralville Transit and the University of Iowa Cambus. All Iowa City bus passes will now work on Coralville Transit, and Cambus has always been free to the general public.

Other highlights of the new bus program are free rides for people over 65, Medicare beneficiaries, people with disabilities, and SEATS cardholders. Young people aged 5-18 get a 50% discount and they are considering a way to offer free fares to low-income residents.

“It is a priority for us and the board indicated on Tuesday evening that it is also a priority for them,” said Nagle-Gamm.

You can also transfer buses to any stop. Currently, you can only transfer to the downtown transit hub on Washington Street. Eleven of the 13 routes will also operate on Saturdays and there will be a pilot program for the Sunday service later this year.

Nagle-Gamm knows this will be an adjustment for people, but her department has received over 4,600 audience contribution points for it, so she believes people will be on board.

The new routes will start on August 2.

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