Cambus provides fare-free routes to parking, campus

Posted on June 29, 2009

[IMAGE]Iowa-Canbus-full.jpg[/IMAGE]Cambus is the University of Iowa’s free bus system and is open to the public. Manager Brian McClatchey says flexibility and service planned in concert with parking considerations help Cambus “to provide the most reliable and convenient access throughout the campus.”

With a population of about 84,000 in the Iowa City metro area, McClatchey says Cambus is providing 6 million rides a year. The system is a division of the university’s parking and transit department, allowing the branches to closely coordinate services and planning.

“At the university, especially due to land-use issues and costs, we have developed peripheral or commuter parking lots, and those were dependent upon the availability of transit,” McClatchey says. For this reason, much of Cambus’ growth over the years has been in providing transportation to remote parking facilities for the university’s faculty and 30,000 students, as well as employees of and visitors to the university’s hospital.

“If transit can be a real legitimate alternative [to driving], it needs to be convenient for commuters and competitive with parking. If parking is low-cost and convenient, you’re essentially encouraging them to drive rather than ride the bus,” he says.

Cambus has always been a no-fare system, with about half of operating expenses covered by a student service fee and another third from parking revenues, McClatchey says. “You essentially maximize your ridership because cost is not a consideration when people decide whether they want to use the transit system or not,” he explains. “It also facilitates how we design our services because we don’t have to differentiate who gets on or off the bus, and we reduce our dwell time considerably because we don’t have to go through the transaction process.”

In addition, the cost associated with collecting fares is significant, McClatchey says. “There are more efficient ways to collect revenue,” he says.


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