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