Parking and Transportation to offer discounted 380 express rides for UI students and staff

Students and staff are eligible for a 45 percent discount on the 380 express commuter bus from Iowa City to Cedar Rapids.

A+380+Express+bus+pulls+into+the+Court+Street+Transportation+Center+on+Thursday%2C+Oct.+31%2C+2019.+The+bus+service%2C+which+is+managed+by+the+East+Central+Iowa+Council+of+Governments%2C+stops+at+each+stop+every+30+minutes+during+peak+times%2C+and+every+60+minutes+throughout+the+mid-day.+

Emily Wangen

A 380 Express bus pulls into the Court Street Transportation Center on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The bus service, which is managed by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, stops at each stop every 30 minutes during peak times, and every 60 minutes throughout the mid-day.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

Students, staff, and faculty using the 380 Express bus service to commute to campus will have a cheaper option for travel between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

UI Parking and Transportation is providing a 45 percent discount on 380 Express rides to students, staff, and faculty. The discount can be used on monthly and 10-ride passes, as well as single rides.

A monthly unlimited pass for the 380 Express is $125 without the discount. The discount would provide a monthly savings of around $55.

Around 400 people have taken advantage of the discount since it launched on Oct. 11. Around 90 percent are faculty and staff, and 10 percent are students, according to Michelle Ribble, commuter programs manager for UI parking and transportation.

Ribble said the service is especially useful for staff commuting to work at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

“I think it will be really helpful for nurses, since they work such varying shifts,” she said. “The 380 Express has numerous departures, so I think that’s a really good option for them.”

The plan to offer discounts has been in the works since before the 380 Express began operation in October 2018.

The Eastern Central Iowa Council of Government operates the 380 Express. Brock Grenis, transit planner for the Eastern Central Iowa Council of Governments, said the most popular stop is the West Campus Transportation Center near UIHC, and the second most popular stop is the Court Street Transportation Center in downtown Iowa City.

The most popular times of day are between 6 and 7 a.m., with over 30 riders on the bus. Grenis said he assumes this correlates with shift start times at UIHC.

Grenis said UI community members drive much of the ridership on the 380 Express.

RELATED: 380 Express bus adds additional route on Saturdays

“I think we have seen a lot of growth that is probably related to the [UI]. For example, when the class session started in August, there was a 30 percent spike in ridership,” he said. “It’s not a primary goal, but any increase [in ridership] is great.”

The new discount is a facet of commuter programs, which aims to help people commuting to campus find transportation alternatives to driving.

Ribble says discounts that the Parking and Transportation Department offers on the 380 Express or Iowa City and Coralville bus services can encourage commuters to take the bus rather than drive.

Emily Wangen
Passengers sit on a 380 Express bus on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The bus service, which is managed by the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, stops at each stop every 30 minutes during peak times, and every 60 minutes throughout the mid-day.

“That frees up a spot for somebody that lives in an area that doesn’t have those types of services, so they’re forced to drive,” she said.

According to Ribble, 58 percent of staff drive alone to campus as their primary mode of transportation, while only 14 percent of students drive alone to campus.

April Wells, communications director for the Parking and Transportation Department, said the current demand for parking is greater than available spots on campus, although demand for public transportation is growing.

“Looking at the bus stops below our main building at the West Campus Transportation Center, [they] received an influx of people. Especially in the evening commute times, we’re seeing lines waiting to join the bus, and that’s really encouraging to us,” she said. “We know there’s a larger base of people interested in this service.

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