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  • Wed January 07 2009
  • Posted Jan 7, 2009
Bettendorf By David Heitz Beginning this summer, three mass transit buses will snake along both sides of the Mississippi River up until 1 a.m., giving tourists and residents a way to hop from city to city to take advantage of the area’s many entertainment venues. The idea became reality Tuesday when the Bettendorf City Council voted unanimously to ante up about $106,000 for the project, its local match as part of a $1.4 million grant it won from the Iowa Clean Air Attainment Program, or ICAAP. Alderman Kim Stecker, at-large, was absent. The city will not put any money forth the first year, and will contribute $50,213 and $55,479, respectively, in the second and third years. Metro, which provides bus service in the Illinois Quad-Cities, also will chip in $100,000 each year of the three-year project, as well as provide dispatching service. Davenport’s Citibus, which already funnels resources into providing bus service from Davenport to Bettendorf, will contribute amenities such as bus shelters. “It’s just too good to pass up,” said Becky Passman, transit project manager for the Bi-State Regional Commission and author of the grant. Davenport Citibus General Manager Tom Wittig expressed satisfaction at Bettendorf’s willingness to act as the lead agency on the program. “I’m glad to see Bettendorf stepping up to the plate and supporting public transportation.” The grant will pay for four, 30-passenger, low-emission buses that will be distinctly identifiable from other system buses, which will operate as usual. The buses will be equipped with bicycle racks, just like the standard buses. Standard bus service in Iowa ends at approximately 6 p.m., so the riverfront circulators will help transit officials achieve a longtime goal of offering nighttime service. In a memo to Bettendorf City Council members, city Transit/Garage Manager Matt Simaytis noted that the Environmental Protection Agency recently declared Scott and Rock Island counties non-compliant for fine particulate materials in the air. He said the riverfront circulators would help reduce such pollution. According to officials at the Bi-State Regional Commission, if Bettendorf determines to maintain the route at the end of the grant period, agreements could be pursued to share operating expenses with Metro and Citibus, with fares and potential private partnerships contributing as well. The commission estimates that with a ridership of 120,000 people per year, the route could generate $60,000-$100,000 annually from the fare box. In addition, Bettendorf Transit will be credited with additional ridership from the route. Since federal and state funding is allocated according to ridership formulas, Bettendorf Transit likely would realize a significant funding increase due to the additional ridership. ALL ABOARD What: Three new riverfront circulator buses will travel a 14-mile route along River Drive between the downtown transit hubs of Bettendorf and Davenport. From Davenport, the buses will cross Centennial Bridge to a transit hub in downtown Rock Island. It would then travel along the river corridor to Centre Station, the primary transit hub in downtown Moline. It would then cross Interstate 74 bridge to arrive back at Bettendorf’s downtown hub. Along the route are riverboat casinos, hotels, convention centers, sports and cultural attractions, educational facilities and many businesses. Hours: The buses will operate from 4:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday. They will run approximately every 20 minutes. How much: $1 David Heitz can be contacted at (563) 383-2202 or dheitz@qctimes.com.

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