The DART Forward 2035 long-range transit services plan was adopted in September 2011, and implementation began in June 2012. This investment in transit has resulted in:
- A 9 percent increase in ridership from 2013 to 2015;
- Opening of a new transfer station in downtown Des Moines with launch of a redesigned route network;
- Shorter wait times between trips;
- Service later on weekdays and earlier and later on weekends to better align with retail hours; and
- Additional or expanded routes to serve more places in the region.
DART Forward 2035 Year Five Update
DART began the process of updating the DART Forward 2035 plan in the fall of 2015. The plan needed to be updated because the Greater Des Moines community continues to grow rapidly, and technology and transportation are changing dramatically.
Year Five Update Objectives
Engage riders and the general public throughout the entire process to ensure the updated service plan meets the needs and wants of the community.
Determine how population and development patterns have changed since the original study and identify any unmet needs.
Analyze ridership and service performance to determine how riders responded to the original DART Forward 2035 service changes and identify opportunities for improvement.
Develop a transit service plan that is consistent with helping the Greater Des Moines region realize The Tomorrow Plan’s vision for being a livable and sustainable region.
Development of the Year Five Update included two rounds of public participation. The initial round of outreach was conducted between January and March 2016 and provided key stakeholders, riders and members of the general public an overview of the project and key findings from the market and service analyses. Multiple methodds, including a statistically significant non-rider survey, an online survey, public meetings, and stakeholder engagement, were used to hear from participants about their priorities for transit service and their vision for public mobility in the region.
Draft Plan Options
Based on feedback from more than 5,000 residents in the initial round of public participation, three new draft plan options for the future of public transit were created. Those plan options, as well as the option to maintain DART's current system and not add service, were brought to the community for public input between October and December 2016. In this second round, feedback was collected at public and stakeholder meetings, through emails and phone calls, and at dartforward2035.com. DART is in the process of compiling a full report summarizing all feedback, which will be added to this webpage in the near future. DART heard from 2,170 participants who provided feedback on their transit priorities, ranking access (proximity to transit service) most important followed by availability (span of service operation). In addition, more than 1,400 individuals representing 65 zip codes in the Greater Des Moines metro completed the full survey, indicating which plan option he/she preferred. Sixty-two percent of respondents selected the Expanded plan, 25 percent the Moderate plan, 8 percent the Minimal and 5 percent want to maintain the current system.
The DART Commission approved two action items at its meeting on January 11, 2017, as next steps to continue discussions on how to best grow transit in the near future:
- DART funding study request to the Greater Des Moines Partnership: a letter from DART to the Greater Des Moines Partnership requesting the Partnership to commission and pay for an independent study of funding options to advance public mobility in the region. DART is requesting the analysis include both public and private revenue streams in order to determine the feasibility of the future transit plans suggested in the DART Forward 2035 update.
- DART Governance Task Force and Facilitation Services: Formation of an independent task force on governance, which will have assistance from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, to evaluate DART's governance structure and provide governance recommendations to the DART Commission. The task force will be comprised of representatives from several DART member cities and other community partners.
DART staff will work with community partners to complete these items over the next several months to bring back to the Commission for review and further discussion regarding next steps related to selecting a transit plan for the future.
A DART Forward 2035 Advisory Committee, made up of representatives from businesses, human service agencies, chambers, and other organizations across the community, was formed to advise DART throughout the Year Five Update. The Committee helped ensure the industries and people they represent were heard throughout the process, and that the plans developed met the needs of the region. Members included:
Todd Ashby -- Des Moines Area MPO
Elisabeth Buck – United Way
Eric Burmeister – Polk County Housing Trust Fund
Jake Christensen – Christensen Development
Eric Crowell – Unity Point Health
Angie Dethlefs-Trettin – The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Jason Gross – Nationwide
Amber Lynch – City of Des Moines
Michele Meadors – State Independent Living Council
Matt Nuetzman – Representing Local Chambers of Commerce
Mark Phillips – Polk County Continuum of Care Board
Tim Schott – Des Moines Public Schools
Cory Sharp – Young Professionals Connection
Connie Eastman – AARP
Gretchen Tegeler – Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa
Bethany Wilcoxon – The Greater Des Moines Partnership
Nick Wuertz – Lutheran Services in Iowa