Implementation planning begins for CyRide route changes

While changes won't be implemented for a year yet, CyRide is moving toward a revamped route structure and schedule. Last month, CyRide's six-member transit board approved a new 13-route proposal, and consultants on the project have worked since then to develop implementation documents. When the transit board next meets on May 24, CyRide director Sheri Kyras said members expect to review several key pieces developed by the traffic consultants, Nelson Nygaard, including:

  • Schedules for all 13 routes and how they integrate with each other
  • A phased implementation plan (specific routes would be added or modified over numerous months)
  • Assessment of the new route structure/schedule on specific locations, such as Union Drive near Friley Hall, where bus and pedestrian congestion might be a concern
  • Recommendations for additional service pieces, requested by clients in last winter's survey or focal groups, that could be added as funds become available

Kyras said that although the board has approved the new route structure, it still can be tweaked. One of the pre-implementation tasks for her staff will be to hold public hearings on the approved schedules, likely this fall. CyRide staff also will develop plans for implementing the changes to actual bus stops, bus stop signage and printed and online schedules.

She said implementation of the route changes likely will begin next May and be phased in through fall 2018.

"I'm really comfortable with the new route structure," Kyras said. "It formalizes some things we as a staff have talked about in the last few years; it also responds to many of the requests we heard from the public."

Route changes

The approved 13-route plan eliminates four routes, adds three and significantly modifies four (other routes were tweaked for frequency or timespan of service).

The new structure features:

  • A new name (Cherry) for the current Red 1A route, providing additional west and southwest Ames service to campus via South Dakota Avenue and Lincoln Way, only on ISU class days
  • A new route (Peach) between the Vet Med campus and North Grand Mall via central campus and Stange Road
  • A new express service (Lilac), during morning and late afternoon peak hours only, from Dickenson Avenue in southwest Ames to the ISU campus via Mortensen Road and State Street

The approved proposal made notable changes to these routes:

  • Orange: Frequency increases to four minutes; no longer services Vet Med campus
  • Gold: The expanded route connects Schilletter Village, University Village, central campus and the Towers residence halls
  • Blue: No longer provides service between North Grand Mall and campus and instead focuses on service between campus and the South Duff area via South Fourth Street, with greater frequency during peak times
  • Yellow: Provides service all day between downtown and the Southdale neighborhood via South Duff Avenue (currently ceases for about four hours midday)

These current routes will be eliminated:

  • Aqua: A summer-only route from downtown Ames to Furman Aquatic Center
  • Pink: Limited weekday service along East Lincoln Way to Dayton Avenue and north to 13th Street
  • Gray: Weekday service that connects central campus with southeastern Ames via University Boulevard, South 16th Street and Bell Avenue
  • Silver: Sunday night shuttle service (when ISU classes meet on Monday) from stadium lots to three residence hall neighborhoods

Kyras said the eliminations are the result of low ridership data and information received from the public. CyRide will provide hourly service between City Hall and eastern Ames (east of the Skunk River to I-35), with riders calling CyRide for service back to City Hall. A summary of the route changes is on the CyRide website.

Since last July, the transit system has been conducting a study to determine the most efficient way to run the bus system. Kyras said in the last 10 years, annual ridership has jumped from 4 million to 7 million riders, with essentially the same route structure.