Information about MetroLINK buses
for the Augustana community
NEW! Now you can use Google to instantly locate any destination on a map, and see which bus routes will get you there! Largely through the work of Augustana student Katie Suriano, we have created a Google Maps map of the MetroLINK system. If you want to work with the map, perhaps adding your own destinations, view the larger version of this map, then click "Save to My Maps." When prompted, Augustana students should log in to Google Maps using their Augie email usernames and passwords. You can then easily search for destinations and add them to your map. For example, here is a map of popular student destinations that can be reached using the bus routes. Again, if you save this destinations map to your account, you can overlay the destinations with the bus routes.
Faculty and staff who do not yet have Google/Gmail accounts will be prompted to create one-- but only if you want to save the map and search for/add destinations. Please note that anyone can view/use these maps, even without a Google account.
The new route map should make it much easier to see which routes run near given destinations. Please note that while we've done our best to accurately draw the routes on the map in all cases, you should consult official MetroLINK maps for the most accurate and up-to-date information. You should also note that this map is still under construction (a few routes are not yet on the map); check this webpage in the coming days for updates. The map below was created on Sept. 12, 2008
View Larger Map
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I've been a regular rider of the bus systems for a few years now, using buses as my primary means for getting to/from work. I've talked about my experiences with students, colleagues and friends over this time span, and below are some of the more frequent questions I've encountered.
New: Can I get to Iowa from MetroLINK buses?
Yes, you can now use your Augustana ID to ride both Illinois AND Davenport buses for no charge. From Augustana you can either take the Route 10 bus east to the Centre Station hub (across from the iWireless Center) and get on the Bettendorf Route 1 bus (these buses are clearly marked at the station, and leave at :03 and :33 after each hour), OR travel on the Route 10 west to the District hub and get on a Davenport Route 7 bus (which leave at :00 and :30 after each hour). At this time, you'll need to pay for a transfer to ride a Bettendorf (Bettendorf Transit) bus.
Do the buses run by my house/place of work/school/the mall/my favorite restaurant/etc. ?
The answer is usually yes; if they don't run right past the places you need to go, they usually run fairly close. Not all locations are within easy walking or biking distance of a bus route, but most common destinations are (including Augustana). But you really need to look online at the maps to determine exactly where the buses go. The best place to start is the interactive map above. Then, the important 2nd step, is ALWAYS CONFIRM YOUR ROUTE USING OFFICIAL METROLINK MAPS. It will take some effort to read the MetroLINK maps and schedules, but it isn't rocket science. [MetroLINK also has a route planner on their site, but in my experience it often comes up with routes that are not the fastest or most efficient. For example, a colleague found out from the route planner that it would take him 90 minutes to get to Augustana from Milan; using the Google Maps map, I found a route that would take him roughly 30 minutes.]
If you find that using the bus to/from a given location looks like it will take too long, consider riding your bike and/or walking part way. Instead of waiting 20 minutes for a connecting bus that you'll only ride for one mile, you could ride your bike. Even at a leisurely pace, most of us could cover that mile in 6 minutes.
Do buses run near Augustana?
Yes, in fact several buses run near (and in some cases right thru) campus. The Route 10, 30, 53, and 57 buses all run nearby (o.k., you might have to walk for 3-4 minutes to get to one of the routes... but this is a good thing).
Where do I go to get on a bus?
You can catch buses at any point along their routes. You need to stand on the same side of the street as the bus is travelling, and you will need to flag the bus down (it also helps if you are standing near a sign indicating a designated bus stop, but this isn't necessary). You'll know the driver sees you when they turn their flashing hazard lights on.
Where does the bus let people off?
You can also exit the bus at any point along its route. If you don't want or need to ride the bus all the way to its destination, simply pull on the cords that run along the windows on each side of the bus to signal to the driver that you'd like to exit the bus. You need to give the driver some lead time-- you'll develop a feel for how long it tends to take drivers to react to the signal and pull over, my hunch is that half a block is plenty of warning.
How much does it cost to ride?
Starting in Fall 2008, if you are an Augustana community member with a photo ID, the College has already paid your tab! You'll just need your photo ID to ride. Be sure to thank President Bahls for this next time you see him. The only time you need to pay at all is if you use Bettendorf buses.
How do I know when the bus will be coming by my location?
You can use the online schedules to get a pretty accurate answer. Most of the buses run close to their published schedule times. In addition, the buses have GPS locators on them, allowing you to determine exactly how many minutes will pass before a bus will arrive at any intersection along a route. This great system keeps time spent waiting on a bus streetside to an absolute minimum, which is nice when the weather is unpleasant. You can do this either via the Internet, or via text message on a cell phone. To do this on a cell phone:
Both the web-based
system and the text-message system will result in a nearly instantaneous reply
from the MetroLINK computers indicating when the next
buses will be coming by the location corresponding to the MPT code. The buses
are identified by their route number and destination (for example, "10 Red
Hampton" is a bus that is travelling east toward Hampton, IL).
One more hint: if you take the bus at the same stop with some regularity, you can speed this up. Most cell phones will allow you save previously sent text messages on your phone so you can resend them later. Saved messages are retained even when you delete all of your other sent messages. So you won't have to always remember this information; get it to work one time, save the message, and then just resend it when you want to find out when the next bus will be coming by that same intersection.
What do I do if I think I might not have time to make connections from one bus to another?
If you know that you will not have much time to get from one bus to another on your route, and/or if the first bus is running a bit late, you can let the driver know as you get on that you will be making connections. They will usually ask for this information as you board anyway, but it is always o.k. to offer it. The bus drivers will contact each other and ask connecting buses to wait for you-- within a reasonable timeframe (usually 5 minutes). Note that the various bus routes tend to connect at a given transfer point (e.g., Centre Station and the District) at the same time, making it fairly easy to make connections.
How long does it take you to get to work (or other destinations) riding the bus?
Not too much longer than if I drive my car. It is true that riding buses means that you will not be travelling the shortest distance between two points, so there is some additional travel time. But you can get to most destinations within a reasonable time frame. You can get to the District or the Mark from Augustana in within 10 minutes. But overall I have a few reactions to this question:
1) One of the reasons oil is in such short supply and CO2 emissions are as high as they are is that most of us have come to view getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible as a God-given right. We can keep looking for the perfect technological solution that will allow us to retain this mindset into the future (which frankly doesn't seem likely anytime soon), OR we can change our mindset and accept the notion that getting from A to B in a "timely" fashion is reasonable. It takes me 20 minutes to get to work by car. It takes me an additional 15 minutes or so by bus. I'm at peace with that. It beats walking, especially when the weather is bad and/or I don't have the time/inclination to enjoy the walk.
2) You can learn to use the time on the bus wisely. It is a perfect time to read. I usually read the paper, or grade papers, or read a good book. It is also good time to plan your day or enjoy an iPod... I frequently put audio books or podcasts of news programs on my iPod. Frankly, in many cases I end up feeling like I could have used another 10 minutes of time on the bus to get a few more pages read.
3) A lot of people would rather not have to drive on snowy, icy or rain-covered roads. When you ride the bus, you are letting someone else deal with the weather. I arrived home one day this past winter during a snowstorm, and my wife asked "How were the roads?" My answer was "I don't know, I read the paper the whole way."
4) Research finds that people who use public transportation such as buses are less likely to be overweight/obese than those who don't. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that this is in part because they learn to walk a bit more than those cruising for the closest parking spot in their SUVs.
Will you save money by riding the bus?
Yes. Last year, I paid $25 per month to ride; at current gas prices, that'd buy about 6-7 gallons of gas. I don't know many people who can get by on 6-7 gallons of gas per month. I have a spreadsheet that calculates exactly how much gas I'd use to get to work. Now, of course, this story has gotten even better. Since Augustana is paying for our fares up front, allowing us to ride for "free," community members are clearly going to save money using buses. Keep your car at home and free up parking spots, reduce wear and tear on your car, reduce fuel expenses, and eliminate the need for parking permits and tickets. If enough of us adopt this system, maybe we could even reclaim some of the ground devoted to parking lots. (Next time you pass a parking lot, envision what it would look like if it were covered in grass.)
Can I bring my bike on a bus?
Yes! Virtually all the QCA buses have bike racks on the front. For no additional charge, you can easily put your bike on the rack and ride the bus. So if the bus doesn't go EXACTLY where you need to go, it can usually go within a trivially easy bike ride to that destination. These racks are VERY easy to use. There are simple instructions on the MetroLINK website. This is one of those things you will do ONE TIME and never have to think twice about again. The range of destinations for which you will take the buses will likely increase when you can ride your bike to complete your trip.
Are there health benefits to riding?
Yes. As I mentioned above, studies have found that people who ride on public transportation are less likely to be overweight or obese. I can tell you from personal experience that I'm more likely to exercise when I ride the bus. Why? I simply get off the bus 3-4 miles away from my destination and walk the rest of the way. You can do the same thing biking. Riding the buses gives you the option of exercising part of the way to/from your destinations. I bring my walking shoes to school in my backpack, along with my iPod. Then I spend 30-60 minutes walking part of the way home at the end of the day. What a great way to wrap up a work day.
What are people like on the bus?
Public transportation draws a lot of different kinds of people as riders. I think that interacting with a diverse community on a daily basis is a major benefit of bus riding. Here's my experience: I have met a LOT of very nice people on buses. The interesting and friendly people outnumber those I'd rather not talk to... many times over. I've also found the drivers to be helpful and courteous (though if they are running behind schedule, they are "all business"-- as I'd like them to be!). If you are unsure how to make connections to get where you need to go, ask another rider. I've never had an experience where people failed to provide help. You'll usually get several helpful people piping up to offer advice on how to use the system. Bus riders tend to be a friendly and helpful culture of their own, routinely offering to help one another get where they need to go.
Is riding the bus better for the environment?
I'm fairly certain that no one really has this question floating around their noggin, but just in case.... Take a look at this website for a lot of information about the environmental and economic benefits of bus riding. That site is chock full of great statistics about the benefits of riding.
So is riding buses a good idea?
Yes! By riding the bus you can
Maintained by Prof. Mark Vincent (Dept of Psychology) markvincent @ augustana.edu