Iowa City Transportation Department announces changes for parking ramps, bus service

Dubuque Street Parking Ramp, Nov. 2, 2018. — Zak Neumann, Little Village

Parking will be free in Iowa City’s parking ramps during the COVID-19 emergency, the Iowa City Department of Transportation announced on Monday. But that doesn’t mean the department is encouraging people to come downtown.

“We strongly encourage the public to stay home and limit transit trips to those that are absolutely essential,” the department said in a press release.

That statement echoes one issued on Sunday by Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague, Coralville Mayor John Lundell and North Liberty Mayor Terry Donahue, asking their citizens to stay home and limit non-essential activities as much as possible.

“Social distancing and staying in place, is undoubtedly the number one thing that our residents can do to slow the spread and allow our healthcare professionals to effectively manage this crisis,” Teague said in the joint statement.

The transportation department also made an announcement regarding bus service on Monday. Because students won’t be returning to the University of Iowa after Spring Break, buses will continue to run on the Spring Break schedule.

“The Downtown Free Shuttle, the AM & PM Eastside Loop will not operate for the time being,” the department said.

Iowa City stopped charging fares on its buses on Thursday. Riders are being asked to enter and exit the buses by the rear door, in order to help facilitate social distancing, although those with mobility issues can still use the front door. Those who need to enter by the front door should knock on it to alert the driver.

Cedar Rapids and Coralville are also waiving bus fares for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.