Indianola residents can now experience extended public transit hours

by Steffi Lee

Indianola now has extended hours of service from the HIRTA Public Transit.

The Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency, or HIRTA, provides door-to-door public transportation to seven Iowa counties: Jasper, Madison, Story, Warren, Boone, Marion and Dallas. The mission is to provide Iowa residents with more resources and an enhanced quality of life. The HIRTA aims to give Iowans accessibility to jobs, education and independent lifestyles.

The service hours for the HIRTA are currently 7:30 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. For Wednesdays, however, hours have recently extended to 9:00 p.m. in Indianola.

Jeremy Johnson-Miller, HIRTA mobility coordinator, was very instrumental in working on the expansion of the hours.

Johnson-Miller explained how people were looking for some service on top of the regular hours.

“This helps people when they go to church, shopping, or to extracurricular activities,” Johnson-Miller said.

Johnson-Miller said the project to extend hours started last May. HIRTA applied for some funding through the Iowa Department of Transportation and received the grant in the fall of 2012. After HIRTA received the grant, it decided to move forward with the plan to extend hours.

The effort to extend hours was specifically geared toward alleviating transportation issues of the residents.

“That way, we could get students to after school activities, people to shopping and to church activities,” Johnson-Miller said.

The expansion in hours did not impact the cost of rides. Rides are only $2 each way.

Right now, HIRTA is only focusing on the extended hours of service.

“The idea was to start small and get really good word out there,” Johnson-Miller said.

Johnson-Miller also reinforced how all services are open to the public, and there are no limitations on who could use the HIRTA public transit. However, in order to establish an efficient service, people must schedule rides in advance.

“We do request that rides are scheduled 24 hours in advance,” Johnson-Miller said.

Johnson-Miller looks forward to seeing how this impacts HIRTA and benefits the community.

“I really hope this goes well and I just look forward to the future,” he said.