VIDEO: Cedar Rapids bus riders talk pluses, minuses of system

VIDEO: Cedar Rapids bus riders talk pluses, minuses of system

Gazette Blog
Hoping to provide elected officials with a better understanding of how existing public transit services in Cedar Rapids impact the public, columnist Lynda Waddington recently rode the bus and spoke with other riders. Here are a few of the people she met, and what they think about the service they rely on to get to work, school and elsewhere. Read more about Cedar Rapids bus service in this Q&A piece, in which Lynda answers questions about her time on the city buses. This blog post by Lynda Waddington originally published on The Gazette site on May 23, 2016. Photo credit: Lynda Waddington/The Gazette
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Answering your bus questions

Answering your bus questions

Gazette Column
Many readers have submitted questions regarding my two-week stint on Cedar Rapids Transit. Here are your answers. • Will you continue to use the city buses? I won’t ride every day, at least not under current system conditions. I have a job that sometimes requires me to work outside of the office. Using transit for meetings, interviews and other off-site tasks is too cumbersome and time-consuming to be practical. That said, I do have an aversion to winter driving. On work days when I don’t have outside appointments, I can see myself using the bus to commute to and from work. • What do you most like about public transit in Cedar Rapids? Hands down, the people — riders and drivers. There is a sense of place on the buses,…
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Transit blog, day nine

Transit blog, day nine

Gazette Blog
The changing face of 'those people' One of my main take-aways from this project has been that many people — roughly four out of every five I’ve spoken with — have developed a certain perception of who uses public transit. Some believe transit users are all homeless or nearly so. One woman told me that most bus riders are people with alcohol addictions who have had their driver’s license revoked by the state. Still others have implied the system would be more efficient if it only stopped at Goodwill or other places that employ people with disabilities. An added tax on retirement housing complexes and nursing homes should be explored, one man wrote, since the elderly are primary transit consumers. Large, local businesses should sponsor transit services, noted another, because…
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Transit blog, day eight

Transit blog, day eight

Gazette Blog
There is sort of an app for that At the beginning of this series I said that after I used the Cedar Rapids Transit app more, I’d offer a review. Today seems like a good day. The first thing you need to know is that the website — rideCRT.com — and the companion mobile app aren’t homegrown. They are part of a system offered by Utah-based Ride Systems, which reports it works with more than 150 transit agencies in North America — municipal, academic, corporate, airport and resort. I’ve used their site to access a tutorial for the app, and have also embedded that video below. (If you aren’t into new age music, you might want to watch with the sound muted.) I can’t say that I learned anything from…
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Transit blog, day seven

Transit blog, day seven

Gazette Blog
Not all stops are created equal Until I met Marion resident Ann Roberts (day three) I didn’t spend much time thinking about bus stops. I’m guessing most people who don’t ride the bus don’t really see the stops, since many are little more than a small sign on a poll. Route 5S, for instance, has a total of 114 stops along its route, which runs from the transit hub, along First Avenue and out to the Marion Wal-Mart near Hwy 13 — roughly one stop every two blocks. Placing a shelter or even seating at each stop on each route wouldn’t be practical or possible. Some are located in the parking area (between street and sidewalk) of residential roads, others adjacent to private property. And, when you are riding the…
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Transit blog, day six

Transit blog, day six

Gazette Blog
Gaining a new perspective Reaching the halfway mark of my two-week stint on public transit feels good. It also seems like a good time to relax a little and reflect. I drove my car this weekend, and I must admit that I enjoyed it. For Mother’s Day, I wanted new shoes and my sweet husband suggested I just go and find the ones I wanted. In fact, he told me to “buy two.” It was a task made exponentially easier by car, even though Cedar Rapids Transit offers free rides on Saturday. But even as I drove around, visiting various retail joints, I was more aware of the community and the transit buses than I normally would be. If you ride city buses for any period of time, you can’t…
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Cedar Rapids Public Transit’s mental toll

Cedar Rapids Public Transit’s mental toll

Gazette Column
Heard of the cognitive tax? This week, thanks to Cedar Rapids Public Transit, I’m feeling it. Cognitive tax is a term used to describe the mental state of those living in poverty or other stressful situations, also known as a scarcity mind-set. The more uncertainty in your life, the more mental work you need to expend, which takes a toll on the quality and number of tasks that can be completed. I think of it in terms of bandwidth, and how computers and smartphones bog down when they are trying to do too much with too little. When people have stable jobs, stable homes and generally predicable lives, routines go somewhat smoothly. We know where to go when we get hungry, know where we sit for work. Those are things…
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Transit blog, day five

Transit blog, day five

Gazette Blog
Morning commutes made easy Since I rode the last Route 5S bus out of the transit hub, it’s only fair that I would also board the first Route 5S bus out of Marion Square this morning. As you might expect, it was a mostly quiet commute. While I was the only person waiting at the bus stop, there were about five people already riding the bus when I boarded at 7:05 a.m. Moving along First Avenue, we picked up several more, with very few exiting. By the time we arrived at the downtown transit hub shortly after 7:30 a.m., the bus was nearly full. Because of the way deadlines fall, I’ve already filed my Saturday column that gets printed in the paper. It discusses how difficult it can be to…
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Transit blog, day four

Transit blog, day four

Featured, Gazette Blog
Does the metro really value all residents? Only a few seats were filled on the Route 5S bus Wednesday night when I boarded for the last trip out of the transit hub in Cedar Rapids. Since buses on Route 5 are heavily used, the lack of passengers was initially puzzling. A few more boarded the bus as it worked its way along First Avenue, headed to Marion, but not very many. After thinking about it last night, and again this morning (while riding a full Route 5 bus into downtown), I’ve come to the conclusion that bus passengers were sparse because it was the last route of the day. There were no more opportunities remaining for someone to travel to the store for a gallon of milk or to go…
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Transit blog, day three

Transit blog, day three

Gazette Blog
Who are the people in your neighborhood? Remember yesterday when I warned that today’s transit blog installment might arrive a little late? Even I didn’t expect it would be quite this late, but today was busy and fruitful. This morning I had the pleasure of visiting with other transit riders while waiting on and riding the city bus. “I love the bus,” Marion resident Ann Roberts told me while we rested on a bench at the Marion Square bus stop. She lives on 35th Street, just down the road from the Marion Hy-Vee, and has been a part of the community for two years, having moved here from the Quad Cities. At age 67 — “soon to be 68" — Ann has never had a driver’s license, and relies on…
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