CEDAR RAPIDS — In less than two weeks, commuters between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City will be able to hop a bus and avoid Interstate 380 traffic.
Created by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Transportation as a Corridor Rides program, the 380 Express bus service launches Oct. 1 at 5:20 a.m. at the Cedar Rapids Ground Transportation Center in downtown Cedar Rapids.
The route was established to help alleviate traffic during construction of the Interstate 80/I-380 interchange project, expected to be completed in 2025. The service is estimated to cost about $1.5 million annually from 2019-2025 and will be covered by state funds.
The 380 Express service operates only on weekdays and will make five stops between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, before making a return trip. Buses are provided by Windstar Lines.
Here’s what you need to know about riding the 380 Express:
How much do tickets cost?
• One-way ticket: $3.50, free for children under 6, and $1.75 for seniors 60 or older and people with disabilities.
• 10-ride pass: $32.50, and $16.25 for seniors 60 or older and people with disabilities.
• Monthly, unlimited rides: $125, and $62.50 for seniors 60 or older and people with disabilities.
One-way riders can pay with exact change or buy a ticket with the Token Transit app. The app, which allows riders to purchase tickets via smartphone, is required for 10-ride or unlimited monthly tickets.
Brock Grenis, transit administrator and planner with East Central Iowa Council of Governments said monthly cost estimates show that, based on $2.53-per-gallon gas prices, the average commuter between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City spends about $365 a month, including vehicle maintenance costs. When factoring in vehicle depreciation, the cost is closer to $584, he said. Neither estimate includes the cost of parking.
“We studied the fare quite a bit and that’s kind of the sweet spot to being affordable, reasonable to the public, while also recovering some of the costs,” Grenis said of 380 Express’ fares.
Where and when does the bus stop?
• Cedar Rapids Ground Transportation Center, 450 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids
• Kirkwood Community College Park and Ride lot, at the corner of Kirkwood Blvd SW and 66th Ave SW near Linn Hall, Cedar Rapids
• Coralville Intermodal Facility at Iowa River Landing, 906 Quarry Road, Coralville
• University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City. The morning stop is on the west side of Hawkins near Evashevski Drive. Afternoon stop is on the east side of Hawkins near the water tower.
• Iowa City Court Street Transportation Center, 150E W. Court St., Iowa City
Buses operate Mondays through Fridays and will run in 30-minute intervals — with the first bus leaving downtown Cedar Rapids starting at 5:20 a.m. — until about 10 a.m., when the service shifts to a one-hour interval between buses. At 3:20 p.m., buses return to departing every 30 minutes until the final bus arrives back in Cedar Rapids at 8:40 p.m., Grenis said. The last departure from downtown Cedar Rapids is at 6:50 p.m. The total trip is about 50 minutes one-way.
Is this a permanent bus route?
This route is temporary and meant to last during the more than five-year construction timeline for the I-80/I-380 interchange project, already underway and estimated to cost $300 million.
If ridership is low on the 380 Express, the service can be terminated early, a planner with the Department of Transportation said last month when the route was first announced.
More information on fares, departure and arrival times and stops can be found at 380express.com.
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