If you're flying, the best...
If you're flying, the best place is probably to fly into either Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities (Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, Rock Island), or Des Moines, which is somewhat of a drive. Driving, it's right off of I-80
Car... walking if you're downtown.
Iowa City Transit
The Iowa City Transit system of buses is actually quite good. At 75 cents, it's cheap enough, and it's on time. Check the website for routing information, but there's also live help via telephone to plan your trip.
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watch the snow....
In winter, locals avoid cars with southern state license plates. They make an invisible circle away from them.
Unfortunalty, we have been forced to drive on snow and ice half of each year.
There are tricks to the trade. If you are not used to it, just slow down. If bad weather, don't go down big hill. Use common sense.
I grew up on a busy big hill. We used to put chairs in the window to watch cars crash when bad winter storms came. We had a 24 car pileup one bad year with our car hit 3 times- that was parked off the street!
Even the trucks go in the ditch if you don't get the hang of it. If you accidently go down bad hill and can't stop, dont panic. Bounce off curb over and over, if last dig effort, hit a mailbox@Hey, it works if you are going to crash harder at the bottom. Don't park your car on street or it may get hit. Not to mention those snow plows will bury it under heavy wet snow.
In summer, no problems except just know about critters crossing roads..
In November and during deer mating season, deer may run across roads and highways(they are bigger than bambi!)
Especially see deer when dusk, dawn, or when night and road not well traveled. Then may also see or hit those fat corn fed raccoons and opposums.
Buses in day cheap and easy to get.
Not to many taxi's, have to call one up.
College kids use a free bus shuttle to all dorms and campuses-cambus.
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Getting around in Iowa City
I'm a city bus driver for Iowa City Transit. Fares are 75 cents for adults, 50 cents for students K-12, no charge for under age 5. Seniors age 60 on up can ride for 35 cents in the middle of weekdays, in the evening, and all day Saturday. All buses are lift equipped for people using wheelchairs. Take the Mall bus to visit Plum Grove (Robert Lucas Home). Almost all buses go downtown to the Old Capitol Building. The Plaen View and Westwinds buses go past Carver Hawkeye Arena and Kinnick Stadium as well as University Hospital which is the largest teaching hospital in the country.
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Buses & Taxi
There are buses that run around the downtown. There is the Cambus System which is for the college students, the city bus system of both Iowa City and Coralvile. These will take you to the areas frequented by students and to some areas away from the center of town. But most people have their own car. Their are also taxis but again they are not used by the factory workers or many local non students except for emergencies. That is why a parking garge was necessary for downtown.
From Cedar Rapids airport
Eastern Iowa (Cedar Rapids) airport is the nearest to Iowa City. unfortunately, there is no public transport available from that airport..and IC's nearest railway station is an hour away.
So you have a choice of hiring a car, ordering a taxi or taking the Airport Express shuttle.
If you use an IC taxi firm you may well end up paying for the journey twice; several firms charge that rate. So it's cheaper to use the Airport Express service.
The online booking form on their website will not accept bookings made without a US phone number. I booked via telephone from the UK, and my companions booked by email: both bookings were honoured with no problems whatsoever.
There is a small office at the airport itself, so it should be possible to just turn up and ask fro a transfer, but you might have to wait.
Whether you share your ride with others depends entirely on the day and time you arrive. I was unlucky and shared mine with several people (that;s why the photo has a van), making the journey longer as they had to be dropped off on the way. My companions had vehicles(cars) to themselves.
But it was good value. Staff and drivers were all helpful, courteous and very friendly..and punctual when it came to pick-up from the hotel.
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From Chicago (and other places)
I used the Megabus from IC to Chicago, but several of my companions used it from Chicago to IC.
Megabus is a well-established company in the UK (part of the Stagecoach group)...it actually started here in 2003. So I was pleased to find it operated in some of the US as well (and Canada) and especially pleased to find that I could get back to Chicago without paying for a flight.
Fares are very reasonable, but the earlier you book the cheaper they are. I paid 5USD for my ticket (booked about 2 months in advance); a fellow passenger paid just under 20USD, which seems to be the standard rate for this journey.
The buses are new and double-decker, with onboard toilet and wifi (places to plug in and charge as well).
You are limited to one piece of 'hold' baggage at less than 50lbs, and one piece of 'cabin' baggage which must fit under the seat.
The journey took just over 4 hours and was as comfortable as any long-distance bus journey can be. I sat upstairs at the back, so had a good view through the window (much of the bus is covered in advertising which acts as a sunscreen..you can look out but the view is not so clear. At the back the 'sunscreen' curves down so I had an unimpeded view of the Iowa ad Illinois countryside (not terribly interesting, it must be said).
The bus leaves from S Dubuque Street, outside IC's bus station in downtown, and arrives at Union Station in Chicago: convenient for the Loop and downtown.
Well worth even 20USD, imo, even though I unfortunatelyencountered a grumpy driver who clearly could not accurately gauge weight: he seemed to think my 30lb bag was nearer to 50. Silly man!
You can only buy tickets through the website below.
I could have sworn I'd taken a photo of the bus, but I can't find it now. Sorry. :-( So you've got a photo taken as we crossed the Mississippi instead!
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