Metropolitan Transit Authority of Black Hawk County (MET)
In 1953 the St. John's Transportation Company bought the transit system from the Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Northern Railroad (WCF&N) with the intent of establishing a financially sound operation. However, Waterloo and Cedar Falls experienced a decline in ridership that mirrored the national post-war trend in increased use of the personal automobile.
Revenues continued to decline and the business again changed hands in 1958, and subsequently placed in receivership in 1964. In 1965 National City Lines, a national transit management company, contracted to operate the transit system for the Waterloo Industrial Development Association, which served as the representative of the metropolitan area. Later, municipal representation was further refined through the establishment of a Bus Board, which governed the operations of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Transit Company with subsidization from the cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls.
In August 1972 the Bus Board reorganized as the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Black Hawk County Inc. (MET) and became a nonprofit, quasi-public corporation, as provided in Iowa Code chapter 388. On July 1, 1981, the MET was chartered under Iowa Code chapter 28E and included the cities of Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Evansdale, and Elk Run Heights. In 1986, Evansdale and Elk Run Heights opted out of the agreement. Today, MET serves Waterloo and Cedar Falls, with fixed-route and paratransit service; and Evansdale with paratransit service under a separate agreement.
MET will receive $1,650,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 funding to purchase five heavy-duty buses to be used for public transportation services. The buses are due to arrive summer 2010.
Funding that MET will receive from ARRA will replace five heavy-duty, low-floor buses and could not have come at a better time. Ridership has increased over 7 percent this past year and the vehicles being replaced with ARRA funds have accumulated, on average, 475,000 miles, are 17 years old, and are primarily operated on METís fixed-route service.
Although the existing buses have served the community well, they are all experiencing very high maintenance costs. In some cases, it is difficult to locate the parts necessary to keep these vehicles in service.
The new buses will lower maintenance costs, allow MET to use the money saved in new ways to improve service, and assist MET in meeting its mission of "providing safe, reliable transportation."
The five new Gillig transit buses have made a remarkable difference for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area’s city transit service. Not only have the comments from passengers been glowing, we have heard comments from city officials and the public about the pleasant “new look” of the buses. We have also experienced far fewer maintenance problems, both on the street and also in our shop.
Our campus service at the University of Northern Iowa has also improved. The old bus used on campus was a 30-foot, single door vehicle. The new bus is a 35-foot bus with both front and rear doors. Considering that the campus bus is often completely full, students are now able to board and exit more efficiently.