Today was my first day as a regular bus rider with Five Seasons Transportation and Parking (EAGL) in Cedar Rapids. I purchased a 31 Day Pass and plan on riding to and from my summer job downtown at City Hall. Based on my first day, I cannot say I’m too impressed.
I boarded unit 808 on Route 3 near my house at about 7:30am. I said hello to the driver and began looking for the slot to slide my pass card into. All I found was a slot to insert dollar bills so I began inserting my pass. As I let it go, the driver informed me not to put it in there. I apologized and he replied, “You’re the one who’ll be sorry.” He then pointed out the slot for pass cards, hidden behind the fare box, and told me I’d have to wait up to a week for the bank to send it back. At the next stop, two older women got on and one of them almost made the same mistake I did, but the driver was able to stop her soon enough. I didn’t feel like such an idiot now that another passenger was also confused with the slots.
When I got to the bus station, I talked to the dispatcher and he told me to check back until they can get my pass out. Unfortunately, they could not give me the benefit of the doubt and just give me a new pass. Luckily, though, my pass will not be counting down the days left while stuck in the fare box, since it was not actually scanned. (The passes are good for 31 days after the first use.)
After work, I walked a few blocks from City Hall to the bus station and waited about 25 minute for my bus to depart. As buses began arriving, I went outside to wait. Most of the buses are older GMC RTS buses, which make up a majority of the fleet, and some new Thomas Dennis SLF 200 low floor buses. The buses are branded as “EAGL,” short for “Environmental Alternative for Greater Living,” with eagle head logos at the front of either side. The older GMC buses have a white and teal color scheme, with the bottom half in teal and white on top half, though many of them are covered in full bus ads wraps. I have never liked this color scheme so luckily the new Thomas Built Buses came with a new scheme. Mostly white, the bottom portions have curving blue and green (not teal) trimming. The top is stripped in green and has some quote about customer service in white lettering. The fleet is made up of 30 and 35 foot long (old and new) buses.
My ride home was on a GMC RTS bus, wrapped in a full-bus Yellow Book ad. I used a fare ticket to ride, which the dispatcher had given me in the morning. I sat at the rear of the bus so the ride wasn’t very smooth for me. The rear doors rattled at the slightest bump. Once all but one other passenger had gotten off, the driver started making small talk with the older man, apparently a regular. I thought this was nice after having a day full of relatively unfriendly encounters with the transit personnel.
Overall I think Five Seasons Transportation is lacking in service. With limited operation hours (about 6am to 6:30pm on weekdays) and physical coverage of the community, it is not a very convenient or timely transportation option. It is good for some specific trips, such as my daily commute to work since a route goes right by my house, but to actually get around town, it is simply inadequate. They do provide printed pocket schedules; however, they do not include route maps. The only full route map complete with schedules is located at the GTC. Individual route maps and schedules are available on their website, but that is of little help if you do not have access to a computer or the internet, or if you were to actually try to get around town casually using the bus. A number of minor changes could imrpove the system’s ease of use and convenience for the public.