116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Officials already are zeroing in on a Lindale Mall public transit express bus and route changes, and exploring a regional transit authority.
Those were recommendations from a six-month transit study completed by a consultant and accepted last week by the Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board.
Items not likely to be considered, at least not now, are nighttime service, eliminating service on O Avenue and increasing fares.
In some cases, fares are lower than average among peer bus services, according to this year's Corridor MPO Transit Study.
'While we recognize potential service changes we've considered may affect individuals, our goal is to positively affect as many people as possible,” said Brandon Whyte, multimodal transportation planner for the Corridor MPO.
The Corridor MPO considers regional issues and decides how to allocate federal transportation money. The agency is overseen by a policy board with representatives from local communities.
Crowding on route 5, which includes Lindale Mall, has become a major issue. Some riders have to wait a half hour for space on a bus, Whyte said. Adding an express route on 5 is among cost-neutral options in the 257-page study.
Consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff of Kansas City, Kan., in its $166,385 study, identified a range of no-cost, low cost and high-cost changes. The focus will be adjustments that allow the transit system to serve more people through cost-neutral changes, Whyte said.
'We'll consider minimizing service on northeast side, so we can put that express bus on First Avenue,” said Brad DeBrower, Cedar Rapids Transit manager. 'We see that being our immediate priority.”
DeBrower said combining routes 2 and 9 would free up resources for the Lindale Mall express, which is on route 5, the busiest in the system. The three route 5 buses combined served about 1,410 people a day last year, according to CR Transit.
Cedar Rapids Transit can make minor route changes internally. Larger system changes will go to the Cedar Rapids City Council for approval, DeBrower said. That probably is a year away. Any changes are subject to public input, he said.
The study also identified a funding gap. Cedar Rapids has been subsidizing for Marion for $100,270 and Hiawatha for $72,811 annually. DeBrower said both communities have agreed to adjust their budgets to cover the shortfall. It is not clear whether it will create a surplus for Cedar Rapids Transit or if Cedar Rapids simply will pay less, he said.
One item likely to get further discussion is establishing a regional transit authority, which is an independent public agency similar to DART, or Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority.
The study calls a regional transit authority 'a good idea.”
A regional transit authority could work with Iowa City, Coralville, and University of Iowa's Cambus because of Johnson County's robust public transit system, according to the study, it creates an opportunity for additional funding as an independent taxing entity. An authority also could consolidate duplicative services such as maintenance and better coordinate rural and urban services.
Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, who is a member of the policy board, said he supports exploring the regional transit authority concept. It could create more equity in service and costs across the area.
'We have good service now, but I think it could be improved and become more efficient (through an RTA),” Olseson said.
Whyte said the Corridor MPO will create a steering committee to identify a consultant to examine legal ramifications of a regional transit authority.
View the report here.