Government

Cedar Rapids-to-Iowa City ridership growing on 380 Express bus service

The bus will offer free rides on Thursday

Gary Lindsey, Motor Coach Operator, makes a turn from Kirkwood Boulevard SW on a 380 Express bus northbound route as a southbound bus waits at the light in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Gary Lindsey, Motor Coach Operator, makes a turn from Kirkwood Boulevard SW on a 380 Express bus northbound route as a southbound bus waits at the light in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Now a half-year into operations, the Corridor’s Cedar Rapids-to-Iowa City bus service has seen ridership steadily increase.

Just shy of 2,600 people rode the bus in October, the route’s first month of operation. In March, the bus served more than 4,200 passengers, according to data provided by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, which manages the service.

The 380 Express weekly ridership average increased from 132 passengers a day near the end of October to more than 215 riders at the end of March. A few dips in ridership can be attributed to the holiday season in late December or spring break in March.

“Since the start, it’s been a general trend upward in ridership,” Brock Grenis, transit administrator and planner with the Council of Governments, said Friday.

To encourage more people to try the service, Corridor Rides will offer free 380 Express rides Thursday.

The promotion is part of the American Public Transit Association’s “Get on Board” day initiative, which aims to generate awareness and increase support for public transportation.

The 380 Express service — which connects transportation centers in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and includes stops at Kirkwood Community College’s main campus, Coralville’s Iowa River Landing and the UI Hospitals and Clinics — was created to help alleviate traffic during construction of the Interstate 80/I-380 interchange project, expected to be completed in 2024.

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The service is estimated to cost about $1.5 million annually from 2019 to 2025 and will be covered by state funds.

Cathy Cutler, transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation’s office in Cedar Rapids, said officials anticipate the service will see ridership grow more once major interchange work ramps up and commuters start feeling the effects.

Grenis said it’s possible the 380 Express route, schedule or list of bus stops could be adjusted based on demand or rider feedback.

A survey being provided to riders is collecting input on the service.

While nothing has been determined, Grenis said adjustments would be done in a way that doesn’t extend the length of a full ride — it takes about 50 minutes to get from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City.

“All options are on the table ... the first priority is making it convenient and attractive to use,” he said. “Not having unnecessary stops is certainly a priority to look at.”

The service’s most popular stops have been a park-and-ride stop at Kirkwood Community College and a stop at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Both stops saw more than 1,100 boardings last month.

Meanwhile, the Coralville stop saw only 173 boardings in March and consistently averages fewer boardings than most other stops, according to data.

While the northbound Kirkwood Community College stop has the fewest boardings, Grenis said that stop sees ample departures, as commuters who parked and boarded at that stop earlier in the day return to their vehicles.

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About the service:

TICKETS

• 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 buy tickets via smartphone, is required for 10-ride or unlimited monthly tickets.

STOPS

• Cedar Rapids Ground Transportation Center, 450 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids

• Kirkwood Community College Park and Ride lot, at the corner of Kirkwood Boulevard SW and 66th Avenue SW near Linn Hall, Cedar Rapids

• Coralville Intermodal Facility at Iowa River Landing, 906 Quarry Rd., Coralville

• West Campus Transportation Center, 840 Evashevski Drive, Iowa City.

• Iowa City Court Street Transportation Center, 150E W. Court St., Iowa City

Buses operate Mondays through Fridays and run in 30-minute intervals — with the first bus leaving downtown Cedar Rapids 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. The last departure from downtown Cedar Rapids is at 6:50 p.m. The total trip is about 50 minutes one-way.

More information on fares, departure and arrival times and stops can be found at 380express.com.

• Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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