The Iowa Department of Transportation says more people hopped on the bus in 2002. Spokesperson Donna Johnson of the Office of Public Transit says it showed a nine-percent increase in ridership for the fiscal year that ended in July 1st of 2002. Johnson says the increase could be the results of efforts pushing public transit.She says they’ve worked hard on marketing public transit to Iowans. The cities of Ames, Clinton, Mason City,Muscatine, and Ottumwa all saw increases, as did larger urban areas like Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Iowa City, and Des Moines. Johnson says many of these communities have made changes in their systems to accommodate riders.She says they’ve sent bus routes to newer retailers, restructured routes, and in Ames instituted a free route that goes south of Ames and back to the ISU campus. Johnson says another innovation helps people use the bus to get to work.She says it’s been successful in Des Moines and Muscatine, where buses transport people without access to cars to jobs and school outside the standard service hours. While there were over 400-thousand more bus rides logged, Johnson says a majority of Iowans drive themselves.She says they’re working to let people know the benefits of riding public transit, such as low fares compared to higher gas prices. Johnson says getting people to take the bus often involves changing old habits and ideas. She says people can be apprehensive until they figure out how to maneuver through the system. Johnson says there are public transit systems in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
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