Bus study will determine expansion of transit services

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There are no cities in the eastern Iowa area currently that run buses on Sundays.  But some people in one city hope the wheels will soon start to roll every day of the week.

“Yes, they should because it would help with getting back and forth. I don’t have to sit in the house on Sundays and I’d able to get out and about. It would be easier,” Lavelle Faniel said, as he waited for his bus to pick him up on Tuesday in Iowa City.

Expanding the bus services in Iowa City has been a growing conversation over the last few years.

“People who need transportation, that’s been the main concern. That people need it to get to jobs, to home, and out to shopping and various things they can’t do,” Iowa City Assistant City Manager Ashley Monroe said.

Monroe said the city is searching for a consultant to come in and do an in-depth survey of the current transit system. On top of getting feedback, the survey would evaluate ridership, routes, stops and service areas.

“We’ve had similar services since the 1970’s.  So we knew that there was a reason and a need for many years now, that we need to take a look at where and how services are being provided,” Monroe said.

The results would determine, among many other things, if there’s a real need to expand services to every day and if buses should run later, Monroe said.

It’s a decision the city can’t take lightly.

“To not only hire the bus drivers and staff a bus, fuel a bus, we also need supervisors on staff in mechanics. That costs about $800,000 to run a service,” she said.

Applications for consultants are due to the city by December 10 before the city determines which company will conduct the survey. Monroe said the survey could then take 12 to 18 months.

In the meantime, the city council rejected the start of a temporary Sunday service. The council has requested that the city and transit office look into potential partnerships that could develop a transportation system until then.

Councilwoman Mazahir Salih, in a phone interview, said she was disappointed that the council would not support a temporary city service. Salih has been a vocal advocate for expanding the bus services since she ran for council last year.

“I work with low-income people,” she said. “There is a great need for them to have a bus on Sunday, whether it is getting to work or to the store.”

Salih said she would not be satisfied with the council’s decision and would still advocate for a temporary bus route on Sunday.

Once the transit survey begins, the city will release information on how the community can get involved with feedback.

Jalyn Souchek

Jalyn Souchek

Reporter
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