Officials with the City Of Cedar Rapids Transit Department are cautiously optimistic about where they stand despite the challenges of 2020.

Compared to other cities across the country whose public transportation systems have had to make drastic cuts to stay rolling amid a challenging year, the Cedar Rapids Public Transit system and its relatively new counterpart, the 380 Express are still in a good place financially, despite drops in usage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and derecho.

Transit manager Brad DeBrower says after seeing a rise in use of 6.2 percent from July 2019 to March 2020, the storm and pandemic cut passenger volume by about 20 percent, according to the Gazette. City bus capacity is currently limited to just 15 riders at a time for social distancing and other safety and separation measures are in place, including requiring facial coverings. Whether passengers are concerned about safety during the pandemic, are working from home (or not working), or can now conduct business remotely that used to require a commute, people are simply not riding the bus. The Transit Department is taking a small hit, but at this time the city will not need to ask for a new levy increase.

They've not collected fares from riders during the pandemic and have avoided layoffs by being able to make up for a lot of lost revenue thanks to CARES Act funding. DeBrower still says that during the current budget year that ends June 30, ridership will have dropped about 60 percent to 220,610 rides compared to the same period a year earlier.

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