IC Transit launches new initiatives to help elderly riders

The Iowa City Area Transit’s new policy changes include allowing those 65 and older to ride for free, along with new bus routes being added to be more accommodating to Iowa City Area residents.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Iowa City Transit bus as seen on Sept. 21.

Meg Doster, News Reporter

The elderly of Iowa City can now ride free on the Iowa City Area Transit system after it launched new changes to their transportation services on July 6. In the week since then, the Transportation Department has no regrets on their new policies.

“We’ve received really positive feedback, especially from the seniors in our community,” Director of Transportation Darian Nagle-Gamm said.

Among the most notable of these changes is the policy that those 65 and up can now ride for free at any time of day. Before, seniors could ride for free only at certain times.

LaTasha DeLoach, coordinator of the Iowa City Senior Center, said she’s looking forward to how the changes will affect attendance at the center once it opens.

“We’re excited about it because it allows us to have more equitable access for people to attend the senior center and to be able to participate downtown,” DeLoach said.

The Senior Center has been closed down for the past year because of concerns with COVID-19, but reopened earlier this month. All of the events currently are run via Zoom, DeLoach said.

She said there have been problems with individuals not being able to go to the Senior Center because of a lack of parking or an inability to drive, leaving them reliant on the transit service to take them to wherever they are going.

On Aug. 2, the Iowa City Area Transit will be launching new bus routes.

“The transit change recommendations were to make it easier to travel by transit for those that really need it most, so seniors and those with disabilities,” Nagle-Gamm said.

These changes were proposed based on a study the Iowa City Transportation Department did on how it can improve its bussing services. Among its decision to let the elderly ride free of charge, all routes will be the same every day to make transit schedules easier to memorize.

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“Those 65 plus, disabled, Medicare card holders, and SEATS card holders will ride for free, any time of day,” the proposal said.

SEATS is a collaborative transportation program by Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, University Heights, Johnson County, and East Central Iowa Council of Governments to supply transportation to those whose needs cannot be accommodated by the standard bus services.

DeLoach said she believes that the Iowa City Area Transit allowing the elderly to ride for free can only be a benefit to the Iowa City community

“We’re grateful that the Transportation Department focused on supporting older adults in our community,” DeLoach said. “It helps us get back to our goal.”

The Transportation Department’s 2019 study gave insight into how to get more people to take the Iowa City Transit, and to “make transit more dependable for those who rely on it, and an easier choice for others,” according to a presentation given to the Iowa City City Council on June 1.

There is no senior center in Coralville, meaning that senior citizens in Coralville only had the center in Iowa City, and had to deal with the hassle of potentially using transits like Cambus and Iowa City, which don’t accept the other’s bus passes.

For seniors in that situation, a deal has been struck between Coralville Transit, Cambus, and Iowa City Area Transit to make travel easier on those who use two or more transit services.

Iowa City’s webpage states the changes, “will make bus fares and passes consistent between Iowa City Transit and Coralville Transit and will better coordinate service between the area transit systems.”

Nagle-Gamm proposed the changes to the Iowa City Area Transit. The proposal was presented and passed by the city council during the June 1 meeting.

“It helps us to get back to our goal in the city to make our community more accessible regardless of how much they make or where they come from,” DeLoach said. “That allows people more access to, not just the Senior Center, but also to other parts of our community.”

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