Officials who govern one of Iowa’s most-popular city bus systems are debating whether to get rid of the fares charged for riding the bus. Ames City Councilman Ryan Doll says it’s part of an overall effort to "go green" in the City of Ames.
"Looking into a fare-free bus system where it’s subsidized by the city so that…everyone would be able to get on (without paying), hopefully to try to encourage more people to use that service," Doll says. The bus system in Ames is called CyRide and it’s financed mainly by the City of Ames and by a portion of the fees students pay to Iowa State University.
Students, therefore, are able to climb aboard CyRide, show a student I.D. and ride for free. K-through-12 students in Ames ride for free, as do the elderly, but all other adult riders must pay a dollar fare. Councilman Doll says ridership has gone up as the price of gasoline has risen, so now is a good time to have the debate about no-fare bus service in Ames, underwritten by all the taxpayers in Ames.
"We’re looking at it more from the side of the environment, trying to reduce the emissions, but with the possibility of seeing $4 (per gallon) gas this year, I think we’ll have huge support for this," Doll says. In 2006, CyRide gave over four million passenger rides on its fleet of buses. Doll does not have an estimate of the additional cost to Ames taxpayers in general if bus fees were to be totally erased. The city already subsidizes the bus service.
The bus system that serves the University of Iowa campus is called "CamBus" and it’s one of three bus systems serving the Iowa City/Coralville metro. CamBus is free, but the other two systems charge a fare. The MET bus system which operates in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro has stops on the University of Northern Iowa campus. Metropolitan Des Moines has a bus system with an adult fare of a $1.25 on normal routes and 25 cents more for express routes.