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Express Transit Bus System

Economic development engine that will save $millions of tax funds and employ people in the I-380 “Imagine Energy” Corridor. (Eco Bus)

Do you wake up in the morning dreading your commute to work?

There are too many distracted drivers, commuting delays are on the rise and you cant ignore the environmental impact. Its time to turn the I-380 problem into a safe, relaxing, eco-friendly experience.  We can also convert 1-380 commutes into opportunities to get needed exercise. The goal of this post is to start a conversation about the problem and propose a possible solution.

The Problem:

  • Single-passenger commuter traffic on I-380 grows with economic growth, resulting in:
    more accidents and commuting delays
  • Congestion costs Iowa $380 million per year in wasted time and fuel, which adds more CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • The more CO2 we add to the atmosphere, the more we increase the likelihood of flooding events
  • Paving more land to solve congestion problems will make flooding events worse
  • Driving time is wasted time
    • Time away from people we care about, which can become a driving distraction
    • Time that can be used for exercise
    • Time that can be used to do work
  • Driving on I-380 adds stress to commuters lives
  • Employers have to pave precious Iowa land for commuter parking which makes flooding events worse

The Solution: Express Transit

System components and success factors:

  • Commuter loading station hubs – 1 in each community (Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Iowa City, North Liberty)
    • Success Factors:
      • Ample solar and/or wind power for bus charging stations
      • Parking lots/ramps covered with solar PV
      • Commercial rooftops provide power via power purchase agreements
      • Wind power where there is enough room
      • Commuter and recreational bike route access
      • Bicycle rental stations for commuters who don’t own a bicycle
      • Uber and Lyft pool options
      • City mass transit
  • Carbon-free fueled buses (Solar and wind power)
    • Success factors
      • Need to be reliable during commuter driving times (5AM – 10AM, 3PM – 7PM)
      • Non-stop routes, metro area stop to metro area stop
      • Need to be secure mobile hotspots so commuters can work/play during their commute
      • On-board bicycle storage so commuters can bike to and from bus depots

Benefits over carbon-fueled buses

Economic – Cost savings

    • Eliminates expenses for fuel, oil and other consumables that hydrocarbon-fueled vehicles require (>$230K/lifetime of bus savings)
    • Zero exhaust emissions to deal with

Economic Development

  • Stakeholders can be part of a zero exhaust emission commuter solution
  • Insurance companies can remove distracted drivers from I-380
  • Insurance companies can reduce carbon emissions that contribute to property damages
  • Iowa solar contractors and utilities would be put to work building and maintaining solar-powered charging stations at loading stations
  • Commuter loading stations would become live demonstrations of renewable energy in action and thus spur on renewable energy projects in the corridor
  • I-380 corridor chamber of commerce teams can differentiate the corridor to attract businesses to the area

Benefits over light rail

  • No need to fight for rail right of ways
  • Can start using busses now while renewable energy infrastructure is being built
  • Significantly smaller infrastructure investments required
  • Investments in RE infrastructure to power the Eco Bus will provide a significant operational input over the lifetime of the system
  • Economies of scale will greatly reduce the cost of RE infrastructure investments

US Systems in the works


  • Sunnyvale CA
    • They are using a variety of RE powered busses, including solar-powered options
    • Many suppliers domestically and overseas for options
    • Have been collecting performance data for comparison purposes for close to 10 years – see their milestones
  • Chicago
    • Electric buses
    • Grants require data collection for comparison purposes

Potential Funding Partners

  • Public grants such as Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) II – See Chicago system
  • Private grants
  • Corridor employers subsidizing fares for their employees
  • Business advertising to attract riders as patrons
  • Renewable Energy Associations
  • IDOT