Iowa City has seen a significant increase in bus ridership owing to the Fare Free Iowa City program, launched in August of this year.
According to Iowa City’s transit website, Fare Free Iowa City is a two-year pilot program aimed at studying the effects of making transit free across Iowa City with the goal of providing improved access to safe, affordable, reliable, and sustainable transportation.
Between August 2022 and August 2023, ridership increased by 53%. Last year, the month of August recorded 85,672 trips; this year, August clocked 131,420 rides for an increase of 45,748 rides, according to data collected from Iowa City Transportation staff.
“We are thrilled to watch the community embrace the Fare Free Iowa City Transit program,” said Darian Nagle-Gamm, Iowa City’s Transportation director. “It’s clear from the 53% increase in ridership that many more Iowa City residents and visitors are opting for transit, taking advantage of this convenient, safe, affordable, and sustainable mode of transportation.”
Every full-time City route except the 7 – North Dodge route saw a significant increase in ridership. The routes with the biggest growth were 9 – Towncrest with an 81% increase in ridership, 1 – South Iowa City with 76%, 11 – Rochester with 73%, 13 – South Gilbert with 68%, and the 4 – Downtown Shuttle, with 65%.