CR Transit changes nearly here

CR Transit changes nearly here

Gazette Column
Proposed changes to CR Transit passed their first public hearing hurdle this week. The upcoming changes are a result of recommendations from the 2016 Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) transit study, as well as current fiscal reality. In short, most transit riders will see improvements, but not a much wanted broader expansion of service. What’s included? Glad you asked. • Alternative Transfer Locations (aka Mini-Hubs) — Riders are going to see more crossover of routes, which will allow transfers to more easily take place outside of the ground transportation center in downtown Cedar Rapids. These will be located at Lindale and Westdale malls, and at the east and west side Wal-Mart stores. • Circulators — Looping routes will be implemented for Marion (Route 20) and the northeast side/Hiawatha (Route 30), making…
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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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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 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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Transit blog, day two

Transit blog, day two

Gazette Blog
All routes lead downtown If you want to ride in Cedar Rapids, you can’t escape the hub. My not-so-stellar Monday kept true to form as I made my way back home to Marion last night. Initially, I thought I’d walk to street level at The Gazette office and catch the Route 3 bus, ride it to First Avenue and 19th Street and then transfer to either Route 5S or 5N for the return trip to Marion. The plan was possible, but ultimately not practical because of the timing. Route 3 stops near that intersection 30 minutes before either of the other buses arrive. Making the transfer requires crossing busy First Avenue on foot and waiting at the Route 5 bus stop. There’s a bench at that location, but not much…
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Transit blog, day one

Transit blog, day one

Gazette Blog
Not off to a stellar start This Monday morning lived up to its bad reputation. And, no, it wasn’t completely the fault of Cedar Rapids’ public transit. Nonetheless, let’s start this off on a good note: I didn’t have to charter an ark or a speedboat to get to the bus stop. The rain finally agreed to a much-needed break, and I was crazy grateful for a blue sky and a few sunbeams. I had a simple agenda planned for the first day of my public transit experiment. I wanted to catch the bus in uptown Marion, ride to the transit hub in downtown Cedar Rapids and switch buses for another short ride to the bus stop about a block from The Gazette. Before anyone points this out, I’m perfectly…
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