First phase of CyRide changes is coming May 5

After more than a year of public input, study and consultant's assistance, CyRide will implement a first round of changes to the public transit system on Saturday, May 5. A majority of route changes are scheduled for early August, just before the new academic year begins. The changes are part of CyRide 2.0, a comprehensive plan for improving bus travel throughout the community.

One of the biggest changes is a return to 2011 fares, creating savings of 17 to 20 percent on most passes and lowering the cash fare from $1.25 to $1. Transit director Sheri Kyras said the CyRide board of trustees wants to encourage more Ames residents who aren't ISU students to ride the bus. She said 94 percent of CyRide's volume is ISU students, up from 89 percent about a decade ago. Kyras also noted nonstudent ridership has declined steadily since CyRide increased its rates in 2012.

"We don't know what rider behavior is going to be, but we'd like to reverse that trend and increase ridership from the Ames community," she said.

CyRide fares: Rate comparison


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*Reduced: K-12 students, individuals with disabilities, Medicaid/Medicare cardholders, individuals over 65 years old

ISU-subsidized CyRide passes

Iowa State staff, faculty and postdocs may purchase a pass subsidized by the parking division, equal to about a 30 percent discount, at the ISU Book Store, Memorial Union; CyRide office or City Hall. Individuals must show either an employee ID card or current pay stub to prove eligibility. Those passes also will drop in price on May 5.


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New policy: No courtesy stops

The consultant team hired to assist with CyRide's yearlong study, Nelson-Nygaard, told board members that CyRide is a large transit system still trying to operate with small-town policies. One of those is drivers' willingness to wait -- or even stop for -- a single rider who is late. On May 5, that courtesy will end. To keep buses on schedule and maintain the desired spacing between buses on the same route, drivers no longer will wait for riders running to catch up with a moving bus.

"We realized it's a customer service issue," Kyras said. "Waiting for one rider is really very nice, but you also keep 50-60 other riders waiting, or maybe even late for where they need to be. There has to be some balance."

Shorter intervals between buses is one of the changes coming to CyRide's high-capacity routes in August. So, the wait will be shorter for riders who miss a bus.

Kyras said the goal is efficiency and providing a higher level of service. She also noted that after 6 p.m. and on weekends, when intervals lengthen between buses, drivers will do their best to help riders with transfers.

May route changes

While most route changes will occur later this summer, these CyRide route changes take effect May 5:

  • The pink and gray routes, which serviced east and southeast Ames from city hall and central campus, respectively, will end and be replaced with curb-to-curb weekday service. The East Ames Service Extension (EASE) will take riders from City Hall to anywhere in the EASE zone (along East Lincoln Way and Dayton Road from the federal animal research facilities to Southeast 16th Street). Riders call CyRide to arrange return rides to City Hall or anywhere in the east zone.
  • The yellow route, which connects downtown to the Southdale neighborhood via South Duff Avenue, will provide all-day service (currently suspended for about five hours mid-day) with increased frequency (30 minutes). Saturday service also will be added.
  • The plum route, a weekday-only route that connects campus to the South Duff/South 16th Street area, will now continue to operate during summer and ISU breaks. During the summer, the frequency will change from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.

CyRide has summarized all the route changes in an online document.