Editorial: City’s support of CyRide essential for students


A student waits to get on CyRide, the public transit system available to students in Ames.

Editorial Board

The Ames City Council hosted a final public hearing on next fiscal year’s budget — which is due March 1 — this week. One emphasis of the proposed budget is transportation around Ames, specifically CyRide funding.

The university and ISU students currently take care of about two-thirds of the costs of CyRide. Because of a decline in federal funding for the bus program, both groups — the university and students along with the city — have been asked to increase their contributions to the public transportation system.

Because an increase in funding through student fees means yet another increase in the burden placed on students, the city’s support of CyRide is essential. Students, the more than 35,000 of them, are a major part of the city; therefore, Ames should embrace and help with something so essential to the student experience: transportation. Additionally, the city’s financial aid in areas such as transportation is especially welcome if it keeps students’ tuition and fee costs from increasing so much.

Unfortunately, student fees, which are calculated with tuition costs, had to increase almost $10 per semester this year to help in part support CyRide. However, the city’s increasing contribution to CyRide in recent years is promising, especially as ridership in the city grows.

The city projected that CyRide will give 7 million rides this upcoming fiscal year. This is almost 250,000 more rides than this year’s projected growth. Just as the bus system has been growing, so has the city’s support.

This year, the city has been asked to contribute almost 5 percent more than it did the previous year. This increase equals about $80,000 more for CyRide from the city alone. In 2015, the city increased its funding by another 5 percent after it increased CyRide funding by 4 percent in 2014.

With the college’s ever-increasing tuition and Iowa’s poor student debt record, it is promising to see the city of Ames stepping in to help out. Iowa State’s student debt ranks highest among the state universities, according to the most recent Institute for College Access and Success data, while the entire state ranks eighth in most student debt in the county.

Because the city’s population is made up of more than half of students — the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Ames’ 2014 population at just more than 63,000, while the ISU enrollment was at more than 34,000 — Ames should make every effort to support them, especially when it comes to the cost of the student experience.

Obviously a loss of federal funds hurts all sides who contribute to CyRide, including students, but it seems as though the city’s increasing contribution during this time is a promising sign. Additionally, although this may be a small contribution, any effort the city makes to help keep the cost of higher education down at Iowa State is helpful to students.