On October 6th, the Iowa City Area Transit Study team presented the Preferred Alternative Scenario to the Iowa City City Council for consideration. The presentation included changes to bus routes expected in the short term as well as long term goals and their associated benefits and costs. Two of the lowest cost improvements were Universal Passes, which would unify and simplify Iowa City and Coralville’s disjointed ticketing systems, and the on-demand Night Owl service, which would provide rides for workers getting off late at night. Currently, the Preferred Alternative Scenario does not include Sunday service, one of the top improvements workers in Johnson County have asked for. The presentation did not address concerns about current service gaps experienced by disabled bus pass holders.
The introduction of universal bus passes would allow for the ease of traveling between Iowa City and Coralville without leaving anyone behind. The current fare system is inadequate for serving our community; only the most expensive pass (the 31-day pass) allows passengers to travel between the Iowa City and Coralville transit systems. If riders have purchased a 24-hour or 10-ride pass, they can only use it on either Iowa City or Coralville buses. To add to the problem, riders with discounted fares are not permitted to ride before 9 am and between 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm on Monday through Friday. We are requesting that you reevaluate the purpose of this policy that prevents people with these fares from using the bus at their discretion, this policy wildly limits the independence of those with such passes.
We request that you immediately look into how to provide the Night Owl Service. This service could be provided in a variety of ways, including by partnering with local transportation providers. The need for this service is becoming more urgent as the weather gets colder. Johnson County workers should not have to walk on the highway (often in the dark) in order to commute to work simply because their ticket does not allow them to take the bus when their shift starts/ends, or there are no buses available.
In order to provide these services and continuously improve the transit systems, the council should invest in Universal Passes and Night Owl services, and work to build partnerships with employers to fund transportation both late at night and on Sunday. We have the opportunity to get this right and the changes that our community have asked for are clear; transportation is a public service that should be accessible to all.
Community Transportation Committee
On Tuesday, October 6th at the Iowa City City Council Work Session, the Iowa City Area Transit Study will be presenting possible changes to our community's transportation. We have been educating city council members on the issues experienced by those who use the bus and hope that they use this opportunity to do things right and improve transit for underserved communities. Read the letter we sent to council expressing our concerns:
Dear Iowa City Council,
As you listen to the recommendations presented by the transit study and prepare to finalize transit system changes, we again encourage you to improve the system for those currently in need of the service. This is a service that should be accessible to all, and yet second-shift, low-income, and disabled community members are being left behind.
On October 1st, CTC held a Community Meeting on Improving Transit in which several community members voiced their concerns. One commuter anecdote detailed the 45-minute bus commute that necessitates them arriving over 30 minutes early to work versus a 10-minute car commute. Another bus rider explained how she couldn't afford the fare when she had to switch between Iowa City and Coralville buses, which requires some commuters to buy at least two passes.
Every day, workers are forced to walk home in the middle of the night because there's no service available when they get off work. Our community needs Sunday service and night service. We are asking for you to get creative: can we provide a taxi voucher for service until midnight? What routes would make the most sense to run on Sundays? What funding can the city apply for to provide these basic services? Are there public-private partnership opportunities with employers in our community?
If the funding does not currently exist, we need to find it. We also request that you eliminate the current policy that prevents those with disabled passes from riding during peak times; this policy is extremely discriminatory as it limits the independence of those with such passes.
Community Transportation Committee
We will be having a watch party to listen to the recommendations made by the Transit Study and discuss the impact they may have on the community. This meeting is at 5:00pm. Please join at the following link: https://uiowa.zoom.us/j/91662829268