Give Your Input on Possible Bus Service Cuts in Des Moines

Posted on November, 14 2023

The Des Moines City Council is considering whether pay more than what the city can collect in property taxes to keep DART's existing bus services or make cuts to services.

The City of Des Moines has the option to increase its franchise fee by up to 2.5 percent to fund public transit. Without additional funding, DART will have to cut bus services by up to 40 percent over five years. Initial service cuts would begin in November 2024 and would affect nearly all bus routes in Des Moines.

Learn more about how DART is funded and options cities have to fund public transit. 

DART wants to hear your feedback on an increase in the franchise fee and how possible cuts to bus services would affect you. Your feedback will help us plan for how to cut services, if needed, to lessen the impact on riders and communities. 

How to Give Input

You can learn about DART’s funding challenge and provide input on possible service cuts in these ways: 

Attend a public meeting. See dates and locations below.

Complete an online survey. Take the survey.

Pick up or drop off a paper survey from the Customer Service window at DART Central Station.

Completed surveys can also be mailed to: 
Attn: Customer Service 
DART Central Station 
620 Cherry St. 
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Download the survey to print, complete and mail. 

Public Meetings

DART encourages riders and community members to attend a public meeting to learn more and offer input. Anyone who attends a public meeting and completes the survey will receive a free bus pass to use for the entire month of January 2024. We encourage you to sign up for the meeting you plan to attend, but you do not have to register to attend a public meeting. 

Meeting times and locations:  

November 30, 2023
6-7 p.m.
Northwest Community Center (Ward 1)
5110 Franklin Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50310 
Sign up to attend.

December 1, 2023
Noon-1 p.m.
Virtual – Via Zoom
Sign up to attend.
Access meeting with this link.

December 4, 2023
6-7 p.m.
East Side Library (Ward 2)
2559 Hubbell Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50317
Sign up to attend.

December 6, 2023
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Open House 
DART Central Station, Multimodal Room (2nd Floor)
620 Cherry St.
Des Moines, IA 50309
Sign up to attend.

December 7, 2023
6-7 p.m.
DMPS Kurtz Opportunity Center (Ward 3)
1000 Porter Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50315
Sign up to attend.

December 12, 2023
6-7 p.m.
Des Moines Area Religious Council (Ward 4)
100 Army Post Rd.
Des Moines, IA 50315
Sign up to attend.

DART will make every effort to provide support for language, hearing, visual and transportation needs. For help, please contact DART Customer Service at least 72 hours prior to the meeting by:

  • Visiting the window in the DART Central Station lobby
  • Calling 515-283-8100, option 7, and leaving a voice message. A DART representative will return your call within two business days. 
  • Emailing

Connect with Your Leaders

Twelve communities contribute property taxes to DART to provide transit services for residents. Each community has a representative on the DART Commission. The DART Commission makes decisions about DART funding and services. 

You can share comments with your elected city leaders and with the Des Moines City Council and DART Commission

Topics for Public Input

Over the next five years, DART will have to cut bus services by up to 40 percent if the City of Des Moines does not provide additional funding above what it can collect in property taxes. 

DART seeks your input on: 

  • Would you like more local funding to go to DART to keep existing bus services?
  • How should DART provide bus services with the funding it has? 
  • How would possible cuts to bus services affect you?  

Proposed Service Cuts

Today, DART provides the most service on bus routes with the most riders and provides limited service in areas of Des Moines with fewer riders. Routes with the most riders have buses that run often, all day and all week. Routes with less riders may only offer a few trips each day and no service on weekends.

If DART needs to cut bus services, DART proposes to keep as many routes as possible and run buses less often on most routes. DART would eliminate the LINK and D-Line shuttle service in downtown Des Moines. 

Possible cuts to bus services may mean: 

  • Most routes would run every 60 minutes instead of every 20 or 30 minutes. 
  • Services would be limited on weekends, with no Sunday service on most routes. 
  • Services would be limited throughout the day, with many routes only running during the morning and evening hours when most people travel. 

Riders could experience the following: 

  • Longer wait times for a bus.
  • Fewer options for trips, especially in early morning, evening and weekend hours.
  • More bus transfers to arrive at a destination.
  • Longer travel time to arrive at a destination.
  • Crowded buses, leading to greater likelihood of standing or waiting for the next bus.

If DART receives no additional funding from the City of Des Moines, the first service cuts would occur in November 2024.

Level of weekday service DART provides today. 

current service map














Level of weekday service DART could provide with reduced budget.

reduced service map

Service cuts could impact Greater Des Moines in many ways, including: 

  • Reduced quality of life as people have less access to services and opportunities.
  • Reduced access to jobs, making hiring and retaining workers more challenging.
  • Increased demand on social service organizations to help meet transportation needs.
  • More traffic on local roads, resulting in more congestion and tailpipe emissions.
  • Reduced ability to provide transit services at large community events, such as the Iowa State Fair.
  • Limited ability to meet future transportation needs as the region continues to grow.

Why Bus Service Cuts Could Occur

A property tax is the only option the Iowa Legislature has given communities to pay for public transportation, except in the City of Des Moines. An owner of a $200,000 home pays between $50-$100 each year to support DART, which is about 1-2 percent of their total property tax bill. The amount DART collects in property taxes from its 12 member communities is less than what most cities collect for other public services, including libraries, parks and health care.

The City of Des Moines has reached the maximum amount it is allowed to collect in property taxes. The city’s contribution to DART will increase from $9.8 million today to $17.5 million in 2029. The increase is due to a new funding formula that aligns what each community pays with the level of services received. Approximately 70 percent of the services DART provides is in the City of Des Moines.

The City has the option of raising its franchise fee — a tax collected on gas and electric utility bills — by up to 2.5 percent. If Des Moines increased its franchise fee by 2.5 percent: 

  • Des Moines could lower the amount it collects in property taxes for the next few years. 
  • Nonprofit and government organizations that do not pay property taxes would pay a franchise fee to support DART. 
  • A Des Moines resident with a $100 gas or electric bill would pay $2.50 more in taxes each month, or $30 per year.

Without additional funding, DART will need to cut bus services by up to 40 percent over the next five years. DART anticipates service cuts would impact thousands of riders who would have reduced access jobs, services and other opportunities across Greater Des Moines.  

Learn more 

Learn more about DART’s funding challenges and possible solutions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What level of service cuts would DART make in November 2024? 

If DART needs to cut 40 percent of its services, cuts will occur in two or three major service changes over the next five years. By this spring, DART will know what level of funding the City of Des Moines will contribute and how much service it will need to cut next year. If service cuts are needed, DART will share a detailed plan, including updated schedules for each route, in spring 2024 for additional feedback. Initial service cuts would then take place in November 2024. 

Do I need to ride DART to participate in the public input process?

No, anyone can participate in the public input process. DART encourages riders and community members to attend a public meeting to learn about DART’s current funding challenge and options for cutting bus services, if needed, in the City of Des Moines.

I don’t live in Des Moines but I ride DART. How will I be impacted? Do I need to live in Des Moines to participate?

Cuts to bus services will focus on local bus routes in the City of Des Moines. However, some routes that may be affected also travel through West Des Moines, Windsor Heights and Altoona. Also, riders coming into Des Moines from the suburbs may have longer wait times for buses and longer trips if connecting to other routes. Anyone can participate in the public input process. We encourage all riders and residents of DART’s 12 member communities to participate.

How will service cuts impact Paratransit? 

At this time, DART is considering service cuts primarily to its Local Routes. Paratransit riders would continue to be served in the same way as they are today.

What happens if the Des Moines City Council passes the franchise fee?

If the Des Moines City Council increases the city’s franchise fee by the full 2.5 percent, DART would be able to maintain its current level of services in Des Moines. If the city increases the franchise fee by less than 2.5 percent, DART will align the level of services it provides with the level of funding available.

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