Iowa City ranks among top users of public transit in the nation

Cedar Rapids, Coralville and UI see 14% growth in ridership

In this Oct. 2013 file photo, passengers wait to board the bus in New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
In this Oct. 2013 file photo, passengers wait to board the bus in New Bohemia in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Six Iowa cities rank in the top 230 nationally for use of public transit.

An online publication called Five Thirty Eight, which was founded by Nate Silver, a journalist and statistician well known for sports and political analysis, compared data from the National Transit Database and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to examine how much people use public transit.

The National Transit Database tracks trips taken on each transit system. Transfer count as separate trips, according to Five Thirty Eight. The figure was then divided by the community’s population. Communities of 65,000 or more that had fully reported to the NTD in 2013 were included in the analysis.

Iowa Citians are among the most prolific public transit riders in the nation, according to the analysis. Residents took 66 trips each in 2013, which was 11th most in the nation.

As a state, public transit use has been growing. Since 2010, Cedar Rapids, Coralville and University of Iowa have seen 14 percent growth in ridership, while Iowa City has seen a 5 percent increase.

Here’s how Iowa’s other cities fared:

•Davenport ranked No. 111 with 13.1 trips per capita year.

•Sioux City ranked No. 147 with 10.7 trip per capita year.

•Des Moines ranked No. 150 with 10 trips per capita year.

•Cedar Rapids ranked No. 198 with 7.1 trips per capita year.

•Waterloo ranked No. 230 with 5.2 trips per capita year.

The New York City area had the highest ridership rates with 230 trip per person in 2013, followed by San Francisco with 132, and Washington D.C. with 100.

Several other college towns dotted the top of the list, including Athens, Ga., Champaign, Ill., State College, Penn., and Gainesville, Fla.

When mapping out the data, Five Thirty Eight found that the Northeast and West had the strongest transit systems, while the South had the worst and the Midwest was a mixed bag.

“Many small cities are missing from the NTD data set, but it’s a fair assumption that nonreporting cities generally don’t have top-flight transit systems,” Five Thirty Eight wrote.