The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) and the City of Des Moines have partnered to run free downtown shuttle service on Saturdays. The free D-Line shuttle will run for free on Saturdays over the next two years and will give residents easier access to the numerous restaurants, shops, and attractions in the downtown area.
According to the early August announcement, funding for the additional service was approved at the July 25 meeting of the Des Moines City Council and was finalized by the DART Commission at their August 2 meeting.
The Commission has also approved a three-year contract with Broadlawns Hospital to provide additional bus service to Broadlawns’ East University Clinic when the clinic opens in fall 2016. With this contract, DART will rework some of its current routes in order to provide service to the hospital and will add mid-day trips. Broadlawns Hospital will pay the full cost of the service for the first two years, and a sliding scale fee in the third year based on ridership.
The addition of this free shuttle service is partly in response to a development boom in downtown Des Moines. The greater Des Moines area has long been known for its agriculture, its political importance, and more recently as a hub for insurance providers. But the region has been working hard to establish itself as a healthy urban center and economic leader for quite some time. The Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has approximated that by 2050 the metro population will increase by 56% and that employment will increase by 40%. Just recently, the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. recognized Des Moines (among others) as a “metro that is redefining what it means to be a global city”. And in 2014 and 2015, Forbes ranked the city #2 best city for jobs and #1 best city for young professionals.
The agency’s partnership with the City of Des Moines has been transformative for both parties. Since its formation in July of 2006, DART has grown rapidly, adding more service in the past three years than had been added in the past 50 years. The agency maintains a fleet of 149 fixed route, flex/on call, and paratransit vehicles and has 108 rideshare vans as well. And in fiscal year 2015, DART reported an annual ridership of 4.8 million trips (the vast majority of which were on their fixed route bus system).
“We greatly appreciate the partnership with the City of Des Moines to offer additional service to the community. There’s a lot of exciting things happening downtown Des Moines, and the additional D-Line service gives residents and visitors more ways to get more places.” Added Amanda Wanke, the Chief Engagement and Communications Officer at DART.
(Image courtesy The Des Moines Register)