DART provides 3.2 million rides to central Iowa residents and visitors each year. Our services benefit both those who ride DART and those who do not by helping to strengthen local communities and the economy. A strong public transit system benefits the communities it serves in several ways.
DART’s services ensure everyone in our region has access to opportunity. For some central Iowans, transit is the only means they have to get to work and job-related training, medical appointments, school, grocery shopping and more.
Our diverse group of riders range in age, socio-economic status and dependency on transit. DART conducts a survey of our riders biannually to learn how we are meeting their needs. This survey also allows us to collect some demographic information so we understand who we are serving.
Transit Trivia: Did You Know?
- DART serves a higher percentage of minorities, veterans, individuals with disabilities and low-income persons compared to the overall population.
- Nationwide, households spend as much on transportation as on food and health care combined, and transportation is the second-highest reported household expense, exceeded only by housing.^
DART helps to make central Iowa's economy competitive. A strong public transit system supports job creation, worker attraction and retention and fosters economic activity. Consider this:
- Every $1 invested in transit results in $4 in economic development.*
- 87% of public transit trips directly benefit the economy, with riders either spending or making money.**
- Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates approximately 50,000 jobs.**
DART works with our member communities and local private and public partners to ensure that our region remains a great place to live, work and play. Through partnerships, DART has managed to expand its transit network to offer rides to new areas of our region without increasing property taxes. Read more about how DART is funded.
Case Study: Transit is Essential for Large Employers and Site Selectors
According to the Envision Iowa: Statewide Leaders Economic Outlook Survey Report released in 2022, 87% of leaders surveyed expressed concern that Iowa will not be able to meet its workforce needs, even with changes.+ Yet unexpected solutions to labor shortages, such as access to public transportation, serve as critical resources in connecting available workers with jobs in central Iowa. For example, Bondurant was able to attract an Amazon warehouse and fulfillment center — a first for the state of Iowa — due in part to its status as a DART member community. DART’s commitment to offering transit service to the facility resulted in 2,377 bus trips to or from Amazon in 2022. Undoubtedly, DART services have positively impacted Amazon’s access to workers and its ability to grow its business footprint in central Iowa.
Quality of Life
Central Iowa is the fastest-growing major metro in the Midwest according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and by 2040 the population is expected to reach 1 million. In that same time, we will experience a 40% increase in jobs. This is why it’s so important to put the right infrastructure in place to support this growth, and keep central Iowa a top place to live, work and play.
Through investing in our local infrastructure by strengthening public transit we will be able to help mitigate challenges. For example, investing in public transit can help to reduce the number of commuters driving, helping to maintain commute times which currently average 20 minutes within the region (JobsEQ, 2021).
- ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Expenditure Survey, “Transportation Economic Trends”
- * American Public Transportation Association (APTA), "Economic Recovery: Promoting Growth the Benefits of Public Transportation"
- ** American Public Transportation Association (APTA), "Nearly 90% of Public Transit Trips Impact Economy Through Work Commute and Consumer Spending"
- +BPC and Bâton Global: Envision Iowa: Statewide Leaders Economic Outlook Survey Report 2022, "87% of Iowa leaders express concern the state will not be able to meet workforce needs"