Good news. Yesterday we learned that DART will receive a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to help build a new transit hub in downtown Des Moines.
The U.S. DOT has kept a tight lid on which agencies are receiving how much, so we don’t expect to know how much money we’re talking about until tomorrow morning. The state has committed $4 million toward DART’s proposed $20 million transit hub, which will be located south of Cherry Street between 6th and 7th. DART applied for the remaining $16 million.
The official announcement will come at a press conference at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, at the site of the future hub. If there’s severe weather, it will be moved to DART’s office, at 1100 DART Way. The public is welcome.
DART could receive the entire $16 million, or it could receive a portion. Either way, a new transit hub is closer than ever to becoming a reality. And DART will need one if it is to bring Greater Des Moines’ public transit into the 21st Century.
The existing transit mall along Walnut Street, the primary transfer point of DART’s entire system, has served its purpose, but its time has come. The shelters are not heated. There are no public bathrooms. Nor is there a place for riders to talk with a DART customer service rep or buy bus passes. There are many loiterers. Pedestrians cut across the street through bus traffic. It would be expensive to update. Its design – two way traffic, requiring one-in, one-out bus movement – is inefficient and can be confusing to new riders who can’t count on their bus being in the same place every day.
A new transit hub would be have indoor, climate-controlled waiting areas, plus public bathrooms and a customer service counter. There would be on-site security to assure a safe environment without loiters. It would feature several bus bays that, while outdoors, would be covered with canopies. Each bay would be dedicated to a particular route, eliminating another barrier – confusion – to growing ridership. And, importantly, the bus bay configuration will make it difficult for pedestrians to cut into bus traffic.