Planning the Future of Transit

Your input given throughout 2021 helped DART develop a vision for DART’s current and future transit services. The Transit Optimization Study will be used as a guide for near and long term updates to DART’s services and as a framework for pursuing more transit supportive infrastructure. As DART creates plans and projects using this vision, we will share that information on this webpage, as well as through social media, emails and city newsletters.

The full study is available below. A printable version is available by clicking here.



What we learned from you

Image of Open House at DART Central Station Fall 2021DART collected feedback in April 2021 through several virtual meetings, and a survey. We heard from more than 1,200 people through those efforts, the results of which we used to develop proposed service changes that could be implemented in the next 1-3 years as well as longer-term service improvements. These proposals were presented to the public through several virtual and in-person events in September and October 2021. We connected with more than 1,000 people through these efforts and are using their feedback to refine the service proposals before a final plan is presented to the DART Commission for approval in early 2022.

Feedback from the fall survey helps clarify draft service proposals

Riders can view DART's draft service proposals that it shared with the public in fall 2021 by clicking here. In its fall survey, the majority of respondents (60%) felt that the transit proposals DART identified in its draft plans were the right ones to meet the existing needs in the community. As a result of this feedback DART staff and the commission outlined moving forward with the following suggestions and will finalize planning efforts in early 2022:

  • DART on Demand was launched in Ankeny in November with nearly 250 trips provided during the program’s first 3 weeks of operation, a considerable increase in trips from the prior On Call service. DART staff recommended that its long-range plan contemplate extending the DART on Demand zone to accommodate new development activity in Ankeny. 
  • Ankeny Microtransit ImageFollowing feedback on an initial recommendation to eliminate Route 99 in Altoona and extend Route 17, DART will not eliminate Route 99 in the near term, but rather it will reduce service levels and have ongoing discussions with local employers regarding opportunities to build on Route 17.
  • For West Des Moines, DART recommended a mobility on demand model to replace Route 72 and to extend Route 3 from downtown to Jordan Creek Mall. Instead, DART will recommend re-routing Route 52 to provide Local service along University Ave and will conduct additional public outreach before launching the mobility on demand model so that Route 72 riders are confident in accessing the new on demand service.
  • Due to ongoing impacts of COVID-19 to ridership recovery, DART will recommend reducing Express Route service levels in the near term and continue to identify ongoing opportunities to restructure service to remain as efficient and effective as possible.

Key findings from the responses to the spring survey include:

  • Image of virtual meeting in spring 202177% of riders are satisfied or very satisfied with the 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 requests for 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 included expanded service hours on both weekdays and weekends.
  • 71% of riders who responded live in low-income households and of these:
    • 40% must travel outside of Des Moines to get to or from 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.

Approval and Adoption

The final draft of the short- and long-term plan was approved by the DART Commission at its March 2022 Commission meeting.

DART staff is now developing a timeline for implementing the short-term service recommendations, some of which could occur as early as fall 2022.

Trip Planner
Next DART Bus