CyRide do’s and don’ts

Jonathan North

Ames’ CyRide buses are one of the most convenient ways to get around Iowa State and the city. Most of us use them every day, but public transportation is not something that everyone is familiar with. With that in mind, here are some basic tips for using CyRide buses.


The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out which bus you need to take and where the nearest stop is. The best way to do this is to check the Internet. You can find all the maps for each of the routes at

There are paper maps located at various local businesses, at city hall or on the buses themselves. If you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, it would be a good idea to keep a paper map with you until you have familiarized yourself with the routes you will be using.

You will want to make sure that the route you are taking will get you where you need to go — some of them can be confusing if you don’t read them correctly. For example, the 23 Orange route looks like it goes in one circle around campus, but it actually goes all the way out to Vet Med. If you get on that bus, you may be riding for awhile.


The next thing you’ll need to know is what time the bus arrives at your stop. Schedules can be found on the Internet, at all the bus shelters or on the maps . These schedules are a pretty accurate guide to when the bus will hit each stop, but it’s still a good idea to get to the stop a few minutes in advance, just to make sure you don’t miss your ride.

There are two ways you get can up-to-the-minute information about how far away your bus is. You can call 515-509-2609 and enter your bus stop’s number. This will give you an estimate of when the next bus will come. However, if you prefer to text, you can text “CyRide” and the number of your bus stop to 41411 and get the same information. 


When you board the bus, you should have your student ID in hand to show the driver as he or she needs to know that you are a student. If you do not have your ID, the driver will have to charge you the bus fare, which would be $1.25 for students. The 21 Cardinal, 22 Gold and 23 Orange routes are free circulators, which means they don’t charge fare to anyone and you don’t need to show your student ID.


If you need to transfer to another bus to get to your final destination, but you aren’t sure exactly where to get off, make sure you let the driver know. They will be able to let you know where your stop is so you won’t miss your ride.

Additionally, if you don’t have an ID and are paying for your fare, you’ll want to let the driver know you are transferring. They will give you a transfer slip so you won’t have to pay a second time.


When you sit down, make sure you leave the front seats open for the elderly and people with disabilities. It is okay to sit there if no one is using them, but be aware that you may need to give up your seat if someone else is in need of it.

During peak hours of the day or during inclement weather, the bus can get very crowded very quickly. If this happens, it is best to fill the bus from back to front. Try to go as far back as you can or leave as much standing room as possible.

Bus stops

When you know you are approaching your stop, you will need to pull the yellow cord that runs along the length of the bus. This lets the driver know that you need to get off at the next stop.

It is also acceptable to ask the driver to stop at a specific stop if you are unsure when you’ll need to pull the cord. On some routes, certain stops will be skipped later in the day, unless you specifically request them, so you’ll want to make sure the driver knows ahead of time if you’ll need one of those stops.

If you are unsure about anything at all, feel free to ask the driver. He or she should be able to answer any questions you might have.

Prohibited items

CyRide allows you to bring many things with you on the bus — it even has bike racks if you need them. However, for your safety and the safety of your fellow passengers, it does have a few prohibited items. These include firearms, gasoline or any other flammable liquids, car batteries, large pieces of lumber, large boxes and anything else that is large enough to completely block the aisle of the bus.

CyRide also does not allow animals, unless you require a service animal.

You are allowed to have food and drink on the bus, but you will need to make sure that it is in containers with closeable lids. It also asks that you not eat anything on the bus.

Moonlight Express

While CyRide does shut down services every night, it has a free late night service called the Moonlight Express, which operates on Fridays and Saturdays while classes are in session. It operates fixed routes as well as a door-to-door shuttle that goes where the fixed routes don’t cover. If you need a safe ride any time between 10:30 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. on those two days, go to a Moonlight Express bus stop or give CyRide a call at 515-292-1100. Its phones shut off at 2:30 a.m., so call before then.

When requesting a ride, you will need to say where you are, where you are going, how many people are with you and how soon you need to leave. Be aware that you may have to wait for your ride, as there are many people who use this service. If you think you will use the Moonlight Express, be sure to check out for more detailed information.

Use your manners

These are the basic necessities you need to remember when riding the bus, but it’s also good to remember your manners when riding. Always greet your driver when you get on the bus and thank him or her when you get off. It’s not a rule, but it’s nice to show the drivers that you appreciate them.

Riding the bus can be intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never had any experience with public transportation before, but it gets easier the more you do it.