As Iowa State approaches the beginning of the flu season and COVID cases rise on campus, Iowa State's CyRide bus transportation system finds itself encountering some issues regarding mask mandates and overcrowded bus rates for riders.
Many students have previously voiced concerns about CyRide buses being cramped and overcrowded during peak times directly before and after classes. Students being denied bus admittance is not a rare occurrence.
The additional dilemma of students not always wearing masks on bus rides poses another problem for students wanting to avoid catching flu and COVID symptoms during the cold weather season. Students across campus voiced their worries about their peers' health.
"It bothers me when someone doesn't wear a mask on crowded buses," said Akhil Reddy, a master's student studying information systems. "It's the individual responsibility of all riders to be safe, wear a mask and protect others from spreading the flu and other viruses."
However, not all students agree that CyRide mask mandating is essential. Megan Niewoehner, a senior majoring in agricultural business, stated that enforced masking policies have become more of a political statement rather than awareness to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"There is a point where you have to move on with life," Niewoehner said. "We can't be teaching all generations, especially today's youth, to be living in constant fear of what may or may not happen to them."
"I'm not boycotting the rules, but my choices to my body are my choices," Niewoehner said. "People may be getting sick because they went out on Halloween or their immune systems are unable to handle cold weather conditions."
As for predicaments regarding overcrowded buses, Iowa State University's Response Team chair Frank Peters reminds all students to take precautions such as riding the bus earlier to avoid peak times for classes, allowing them to reach their destinations more safely and smoothly.
"Students should attempt to leave for class 15 minutes earlier than they usually do in order to ride safely," Peters said. "CyRide can only do so much to provide fuel for three or four buses on each route to take all students where they need to go."
Students wanting to gauge the capacity of each CyRide bus on their desired route can refer to their MyState app. By clicking a bus icon under the "CyRide" tab, students can view capacity percentages for each bus to make an informed decision whether or not to ride.
CyRide's assistant director of operations, Christine Crippen, shared her insight on how their faculty have been adjusting their services to provide Iowa State students with more convenient transportation options and how masking has been working on bus routes.
"Iowa State provided masks earlier this semester and spares are free on buses should students require them," Crippen said. "As for bus capacities, our operations place 60 foot buses on key spots like the orange route and smaller 40 foot buses on routes going off campus."
As students enter a CyRide bus, an automatic counter evaluates the number of people currently riding. Crippen suggested overloaded cell signals could be responsible for skewing and delaying the MyState app's listed capacity percentages.
"We hope people are finding it easier to navigate the bus system considering we have two years of students that haven't really used our services previously," Crippen said. "We still encourage people to use the MyState app for guidance when planning trips around campus."
The Iowa State community reminds everyone to be safe and stay healthy throughout the cold weather season. Students wanting to know more about CyRide services or wanting to voice their concerns can visit their website for further details.