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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 3, 2009

CyRide to test fare-free service for three months

by Anne Krapfl

If you've been toying with the notion of leaving your car at home and busing to work, CyRide is giving you the chance this summer to try it -- for free.

From Friday, May 15, through Saturday, Aug. 15, fares on all CyRide routes and the Dial-A-Ride service for riders with disabilities will be waived. Earlier this spring, the Ames City Council and CyRide board of trustees approved a trial program to test the use of a citywide, fare-free program. The intent, said Sheri Kyras, transit director for CyRide, is to encourage residents to:

  • Try a more environmentally friendly form of transportation for work, shopping and recreation
  • Test the benefits of riding public transportation

"The transit board has wanted to try this for some time," she said. "We're interested in the benefits to the community of going green. We're also interested in providing an affordable way for residents with lower incomes to move through the community."

The board considered year-round and weekend fare-free options before choosing summer for the trial period, mostly because the existing CyRide fleet and staff of drivers will be able to accommodate the anticipated additional riders, Kyras said. A fare-free trial during the academic year would require purchasing several buses.

In March, the Ames City Council agreed to fund the $92,300 cost of the trial program, which includes $52,500 in lost fares, $15,000 for marketing and evaluation, and $26,000 in operating costs to cover the anticipated additional requests for Dial-A-Ride service.

Kyras said CyRide's monthly all-you-can-ride passes for May and August will be available for half the usual cost.

Mission accomplished?

Beginning Aug. 16, fares will be required again on all CyRide buses. At the completion of the trial program, an evaluation will be completed to determine its effectiveness in increasing ridership and meeting the community's goals for sustainability. Kyras said that process will include assessing changes in rider numbers, as well as conducting surveys, including a few questions on the annual Ames resident satisfaction survey next spring.

Iowa State students, under the leadership of the Government of the Student Body, opted into this type of fare-free program across town in 2002-03. Ridership climbed from 3 million annual riders to more than 4.8 million today. The ISU student program is paid for through student fees.

CyRide route details and maps are online, or call 292-1100.

Live Green!

More information on Iowa State's "Live Green!" initiative is online.


"We're interested in the benefits to the community of going green."

Sheri Kyras