Iowa City makes downtown ramps free of charge, continues spring break bus schedule


Wyatt Dlouhy

The Harrison Street Parking Ramp is seen on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.

Sarah Watson, Managing Editor

The City of Iowa City will make most parking free of charge, the city announced in a release Monday. 

City Administrator Geoff Fruin said during a Monday press conference they had pulled cashiers from the City’s parking garages and would be conducting very limited downtown meter parking enforcement.

“There is still very limited enforcement of the meters in the core of the downtown area particularly in the loading zones where businesses may still be getting deliveries or there may be curbside pickups going on. But that is really just limited enforcement as needed to keep those operations going.”

Des Moines has also waived fees for downtown meters, with Mayor Frank Cownie citing that people need to park as they work from home.

Iowa City buses will also continue to operate using their spring break service levels due to the University of Iowa and Iowa City schools suspending classes. 

The Downtown Free Shuttle, the a.m. and p.m. Eastside Loop will not operate for the time being.

All other service will be provided per normal schedules and times, and service will continue to be free of charge.

“We strongly encourage the public to stay home and limit transit trips to those that are absolutely essential,” the release stated.

The UI’s Cambus system will also continue to operate, but will suspend its weekend routes.

The announcement comes after Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague declared a civil emergency March 18, and closed its city hall, landfill, and other facilities to the public.

Part of the civil emergency grants the Iowa City Police Department the ability to, by criminal citation or arrest, enforce Iowa Gov. Kim Reynold’s State of Emergency orders.

However, Fruin said that the city’s police department hadn’t made any arrests or given any citations.

“It hasn’t happened and I really don’t think it will happen,” Fruin said.”Our priority of our police department is to get voluntary compliance.”

He added that there has been few complaints, and if they would receive a complaint, Fruin said officers would approach them, make sure they understand the public gathering limitations, and allow the group to disperse.

Teague, and the mayors of Coralville and North Liberty issued a plea to Johnson County residents on Sunday to stay home, and only travel when absolutely necessary.

Johnson County Public Health Director Dave Koch said Johnson County residents can still go outside for exercise, get groceries, fill prescriptions, and do other essential travel, but urged people who feel sick to stay home and get help with essentials.

“Certainly we want people to still get outside and go to the parks, go for a walk. A lot of the management of this is also our own mental health, so we want to make sure that people feel like they still can go outside just to maintain that (six-foot) distancing.,” he said. “Certainly if you have any symptoms we ask that you not go outside… if you need essentials, like food for instance, there are other resources we can assist you with.”