yearly ridership down but still strong


The numbers are in and DART had another decent year of ridership, albeit not as good as the past two years.

Total ridership — fixed-route service, paratransit service and the RideShare vanpooling program — reached 4.5 million in fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30. That’s down 11 percent from the prior 12 months. However, it was still the third highest year of ridership in 26 years.

Public transit ridership in Greater Des Moines had been on a gradual downhill slide for decades when it started growing again in 2006. It continued to grow since DART was created out of the former MTA in fiscal year 2007 thanks in part to new service including Sunday service. Ridership reached 4.8 million in fiscal year 2008 and 5 million in fiscal year 2009.

DART General Manager Brad Miller attributed the one-year decline in ridership to gasoline prices falling from record highs and to employee layoffs around the metro.

It would be difficult to say how much the service cuts in April contributed to the decline, as the reductions were in effect for only the final 67 days of the fiscal year.