Refurbished Ground Transportation Center Opens to Bus Riders in Cedar Rapids

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

Buses pull up to the newly renovated Cedar Rapids Ground Transportation Center Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

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By Dave Franzman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- Cedar Rapids city bus riders stepped into a new terminal for the first time in five and a half years.

The city’s Ground Transportation Center (GTC) facility opened on Monday after a nearly $12 million dollar renovation project that included changing one-way streets Fourth and Fifth Avenues SE to two ways to accommodate the buses.

The GTC, built originally 30 years ago, was damaged in the flood of June 2008. The city considered several alternatives for a bus depot until finally deciding almost a year ago to remodel the GTC , located at First Street and Fourth Avenue SE, and return there.

Bus passengers used to a parking lot and mostly outdoor benches in a temporary bus facility at 12th Avenue and 2nd Street SE marveled at the changes.

One passenger, Aaron Smith, said "out at the old terminal, everybody was outside freezing and only a handful of people could get inside."

Another passenger, Amber Cooley, added "I just knew it was going to be warmer and nicer and I missed the old bus station."

Brad DeBrower, Cedar Rapids Transit manager, said the renovated GTC isn’t quite finished yet, but he called it “functional.” Work on the facility will continue but DeBrower called it mostly touch up and trim jobs at this point.

A number of passengers remarked about both the updating of transit facilities inside as well as the layout of the new depot. The project was designed to make bus operation safer than it was under the old GTC setup. In the past, buses backed out of stalls putting both passengers and pedestrians at risk. The new layout will allow buses to pull in and exit from around the facility without the need to back up at all.

DeBrower said city leaders didn’t make a big deal about the reopening of the GTC because there was some concern the project wouldn’t be ready in time for the December 2nd opening. The city didn’t get an occupancy permit until the day before Thanksgiving. However, bus riders were told about the switch from the old to the new depot with signs posted several weeks ago.

In addition to the opening of the refurbished GTC, the transit department will also set some big changes in motion this coming weekend. Adult fares will increase from $1.25 to $1.50 a ride.

But all buses will be free to all riders on Saturdays. And monthly fares for some riders, seniors and the disabled, will drop in price. The idea for free Saturdays is to get people to try city buses.

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