Posted on July, 13 2021

DART is creating a new long-term transit plan that will determine how its service can adapt to meet the evolving transportation needs in central Iowa. We recognize that even though we have been piloting new services to improve access and the overall experience using public transit, there are still transportation gaps and challenges keeping people from getting where they want, and need, to be. As part of these efforts, DART collected a first round of feedback from central Iowans in April 2021.

Community input - April 2021

More than 1,200 surveys were collected from Central Iowans, ranging from business owners and local leaders to DART riders and those who don’t currently ride the bus. Key findings from these responses include:

  • 77% of riders are satisfied or very satisfied with overall quality of DART service.
  • 97% of non-riders indicated public transit is important or very important to the region.
  • 80% of riders and non-riders want funding for DART to increase
  • Top request from riders and non-riders alike was shorter travel times/more frequency and bus stops closer to their home or destinations.
    • Top request for riders also include expanded service hours on weekdays and weekends.
  • 71% of riders who responded live in low-income households and of these:
    • 40% travel either into or outside of Des Moines for work, and
    • 74% do not have a car in their household.

Of the proposed innovative service models included in the survey, On-Demand shuttles operated by DART were the most popular with respondents.

We are using this input to finalize draft short- and longer-term service recommendations that will be shared with the public for input early this fall (2021).

Transforming mobility for a growing region 

DART has not had an adopted long-range plan since 2011 but has continued to seek community input on its services over the last five years. The input received has led to more bus shelters, earlier weekday service, new or revised bus routes, and more frequent service on DART's busiest routes. With continued technology advancements, new mobility options and changing travel needs in central Iowa, it is time for DART to develop a new long-term transit plan.

The DART Board of Commissioners established these four goals for DART’s new long-term plan:

  • optimize DART’s existing service;
  • identify how to meet evolving transportation needs of the region;
  • evaluate innovative service models that embrace advancements in technology; and
  • develop a long-term vision for DART to serve the central Iowa region into the future.   

These changes could include enhancements to our busiest routes, as well as new types of service like:

  • Mictrotransit, which use DART vehicles to provide real-time, curb-to-curb service within a transit zone similar to a ride hailing service like Uber or Lyft.
  • Partnerships with taxi or ride hailing companies to fill transit gaps in our region to help people connect to shopping, entertainment, work, school, medical appointments, or the greater DART network.
  • Additional mobility hubs in the region, bringing multiple methods of transportation together into one space, including bus stops, bike or scooter share stations, park and ride stops for vanpools, and even car shares.

Feedback that we receive throughout 2021 will help us prepare solutions to meet the mobility needs of our region and ensure we continue to carry out our mission to enrich lives, connect communities and expand opportunities for central Iowans.

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