'So far, so good:' New Cedar Rapids bus routes running on schedule
Area residents say they are adjusting to the changes
CEDAR RAPIDS — More than 4,000 riders put Cedar Rapids’ new bus routes and schedules to their first test Monday.
“It’s going,” said Matt Taylor, shrugging. “I’ve just got to get up earlier.”
Taylor, 33, of Hiawatha, was one of about two dozen riders transferring among three routes at Lindale Mall Monday afternoon. He arrived aboard Route 30, the new “circulator” loop linking Marion and Hiawatha neighborhoods with Lindale. It connects there with new Route 20 to Marion’s Uptown and east side, and Route 5, which runs via First Avenue to the Ground Transportation Center in downtown Cedar Rapids. Last week, Taylor could ride directly to the center.
“Now I have to catch 30 to here, then 5 to downtown, and hope I time it all right,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me. But a lot of people are talking about it on the buses.”
The mall is one of three new satellite hubs — the others are at Wal-Mart stores on 29th Avenue SW and Blairs Ferry Road NE — in the restructured network. The first significant revisions to the system were the result of a 2016 study by the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization, which manages the area’s transportation planning.
“I’ve only gone from my home to here, but I think I like it a little better,” said Jerry Abben as he made the Lindale connection.
Abben, 59, said he liked increased trip frequencies on some routes, including Route 5, the system’s busiest. Planners hope the shorter trip intervals — every 15 minutes, compared to 30 minutes on the old schedule — offset the new Lindale transfer.
“I’m curious to see how they work for the 20 or 30 buses,” said Abben. “Tomorrow, I may just get out on the buses, and just see where they end up.”
Abben said he owns a car but rides a bus about twice a week.
“It’s $3 for a day pass, compared to five or six bucks for gas,” he said.
“So far, so good,” was CR Transit Manager Brad DeBrower’s assessment at noon. “The routes are staying on schedule.”
Sorting out the changes did cost some riders some time.
“I was late to work,” said Erik Ahrendsen, 35, of Hiawatha. On the old network, he’d take a bus directly downtown instead of making the Lindale transfer.
“But it’s working,” he said.
”I missed my bus coming downtown, and I missed another one,” said Thea Pettitt, 34, as she and her daughter Lilith Pettitt, 2, waited at the Ground Transporation Center for their bus home, near Washington High School in southeast Cedar Rapids, from the public library.
Pettitt said she’s lived in Cedar Rapids only a month. She said she used Google’s transit trip planner, which hadn’t been updated.
DeBrower said the state Department of Transportation manages Google updates for all state transit systems.
“They promised us we’d be the first (updated), because of these changes,” he said.
Despite the glitch, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with these route changes,” Pettitt said.
Jeannie Matlick said the new network means only minor changes in her daily 90-minute commute between her home in Marion and work in southwest Cedar Rapids.
“It’s still going to be long,” she said. “It is what it is, though. You’ve got to go with it if you don’t have a car.”
“As long as I’ve got a bus, I’m good,” said Taylor.