There are many aspects of Johnson County's array of transportation options that work well, but too many are out of reach for too many residents. Finding ways to build on our existing infrastructure of public transit options, and making cycling safer and more convenient on both county and city roads are areas where the county government can do more.
Many people are unable to get or keep jobs because of transportation barriers caused by any number of circumstances, such as homelessness or inability to afford a car or insurance. Public transit does not serve many areas, and where it does, it often does not run during late-night or early-morning hours when many 3rd shift, foodservice, and health care workers need it.
One great solution is working well just north of us in the Cedar Rapids Metro. Neighborhood Transportation Services (NTS) is a part of Horizons Family Service Alliance, and has a mission "To help our customers succeed financially by providing convenient, quality, affordable transportation to employment and education." A 501(c)3 non-profit and United Way agency, NTS receives funding from the 3 cities it serves, other non-profits, private and corporate donors and various grants. Riders can get lifts door to door between home or shelter and work or adult education for $5 a ride. last year they provided over 47,000 rides. Duplicating or expanding that service in North Liberty, Coralville and Iowa City will open up job opportunities and increased income for Johnson County residents most in need.
We already provide the SEATS program for our elderly and disabled because they need the help. These people need the help too, and it benefits the community as a whole when we work together to help those most in need.
In the future, the solution may be found in autonomous vehicles, and today Johnson County is one of only ten official proving grounds testing the applicability of such vehicles in the real world. Perhaps one day all our transportation needs will be fulfilled by computer-driven, satellite controlled electric vehicles. Johnson County should endeavor to be on the leading edge of community transit options.