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Buses only link for many to Q-C

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Gary Krambeck

This newer style Metro Link bus awaits passengers at the bus depot in downtown Moline. Metro Link and the city of Moline also building a new bus terminal and parking garage, to be called Centre Station, on River Drive.

ROCK ISLAND -- Public transportation is a saving grace for people without cars. Three million times a year, Quad-Citians ride Metro Link buses, relying on them to get through their daily lives.

Whether they're without a car, or consider a bus more convenient or environmentally friendly, the list of why people opt for buses is endless, according to Suzanne Small, Metro Link marketing director.

Now Metro Link is sporting a jazzier look, with redesigned buses and colorful advertisements, Mrs. Small said.

``For some people, we are the only community access they have,'' Metro Link manager Jeff Nelson said.

He said Metro Link has three management divisions with 150 employees. Metro Link serves the Illinois side, CitiBus serves the Iowa side, and the Quad-City Garage maintains a fleet of 50 buses.

Bettendorf is also served by a bus service, a division of the city of Bettendorf known as Bettendorf Transit.

Bus lines interconnect all three Quad-Cities systems.

Metro Link recently inherited the 49-passenger Channel Cat water taxi, which -- during warm weather -- has day passes for $3.50 a person.

Metro Link buses also provide shuttle services to festivals, events at The Mark of the Quad Cities, and the Quad City Classic.

Buses also provide free transportation to Bob Vogelbaugh's annual Thanksgiving dinner at SouthPark Mall. ``The drivers volunteer their time for that,'' Mr. Nelson said. ``Driving a bus, they meet people from all walks of life every day. They go beyond the call of duty to help people out. A lot of those folks are regular customers anyway. It is nice to recognize that and give back to them.''

``We've removed the barrier of transportation to get down to that dinner,'' Mrs. Small said. ``It is no longer a problem for them. Otherwise, a lot of those people would be spending the holiday alone.''

Metro Link also provides buses for the Senior Christmas light tour, shuttling about 2,000 senior citizens over four nights this past Christmas season.

Even in bad weather, the public transportation system doesn't flinch.

``The folks that drive these buses have so much experience on the streets, day in and day out in all types of weather,'' Mr. Nelson said. ``Generally, it is other impatient vehicles that cause all types of problems.''

In his years with Metro Link, Mr. Nelson could think of just two times when buses had to wait 30 minutes or two hours for plows or salt to hit the streets. ``Bad weather will slow us down, but it doesn't stop us,'' he said.

Metro Link has something to be excited about. It soon will expand into a new 200,000-square-foot building next to the John Deere Pavilion. The building will be a transfer stop for buses and shelter for people waiting for buses, Mr. Nelson said.

Metro Link operates from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays. CitiBus runs from 5:30 or 6 a.m. depending on the route until 7 p.m. all nights. Currently, buses don't provide service Sundays or holidays.

In Bettendorf, most routes begin at 6 a.m. and run to about 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday. On Saturday, most routes begin at 9 a.m. and run until about 5 p.m., though Route No. 2 has no Saturday service.

Fares are 80 cents in Illinois and 50 cents in Davenport. Half-price fares are available for senior citizens, students and the disabled.

In Bettendorf, fares on regular routes are 60 cents, and they also offer reduced fares.

-- By Kristen Foht (January 26, 1998)

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