What do you think of downtown Des Moines? Take this survey

Dear Readers:

DART is certainly proud of its own progress being made in downtown Des Moines: Construction on DART Central Station is in full swing and it is expected to open on time in late 2012.

But what do you think of downtown Des Moines as a whole? Is it clean? Safe? What do you do here? Do you live here, work here, play here, or all of the above?

That’s what Operation Downtown wants to know. Take a minute to complete the following survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/OD2011Survey.

No Internet? Call it in between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 515-286-4943.  The survey is open throughout December 2011.

Fill out the survey for civic duty. The final product — basically, a report card on downtown — will be used to identify ways of making downtown even better.

Or do it for selfish reasons. Participants have a chance to win an iPad2. Good luck!

Your editor,

Gunnar Olson

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Meet Claire Celsi, DART’s new Director of Marketing and Community Partnerships

Dear Readers:

A couple weeks back The Bus Blog mentioned a new boss with a renewed emphasis on telling DART’s many stories. That would be Claire Celsi, the new Director of Marketing and Community Partnerships, and this week we hear her own story courtesy of the following video by the Des Moines Business Record. Click here for an extended Q&A with Claire.

New buses? How about five more DART hybrids …

Readers:

Good news. We learned this week that DART will be able to purchase five new hybrid buses, thanks to a $1.125 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. DART was poised to replace five aging buses in its fleet with newer, more efficient diesel buses. With the additional funding, however, DART can replace them with hybrids instead.

Sharing rides on any bus is better than everyone driving themselves individually, and that’s doubly true when the buses are hybrids.

Here’s the full press release:

$1.125 Million Grant Helps Buy Five New Hybrid Buses

 Five aging buses serving the public in Greater Des Moines will be replaced with hybrids – not diesels – thanks to a $1.125 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Clean Fuels Grant Program that was announced this week.

 The new hybrid buses will replace five 1998-model diesel buses that were due to be replaced with newer diesel buses. The additional funding allows the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority to replace the buses with hybrid buses instead. The upgrade to hybrid buses is estimated to cut carbon emissions by 75 percent and save approximately $2,800 annually in fuel costs for each bus. DART currently has one hybrid bus in its fleet.

 “Greater Des Moines has experienced tremendous growth in the last 10 years – and public transportation will play an increasingly important role in that growth in the future,” Senator Tom Harkin said. “These five new hybrid buses will make DART service even more successful by reducing noise pollution and improving air quality all the while, serving as traveling billboards for the promotion of green initiatives in our state.”

 “The new hybrid buses are a testament to the forward-thinking vision of DART and Greater Des Moines,” said Congressman Tom Latham, chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I’m proud to support this effort to replace aging buses with hybrids that run cleaner and smarter.  I stand ready to work with DART in any way I can as it continues to update its bus fleet.”

 “I applaud DART’s efforts for securing this award which will put more efficient buses in operation throughout Des Moines,” said Congressman Leonard Boswell, senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “This is both great for the service options of our residents and for our environment.”

 “This grant provides a great opportunity to choose a hybrid bus as your preferred transportation,” said Angela Connolly, Polk County Supervisor and Chair of the DART Commission.  “Sharing rides through the DART transit system further benefits the ongoing sustainability of our community.”

 

Shout out to Transit Riders Advisory Committee

Dear Readers:

A quick shout out from The Bus Blog to the Transit Riders Advisory Committee, made up of 13 especially dedicated DART riders. Every other month the TRAC members come together for a meeting with DART staff. They listen to presentations, give feedback, and make suggestions for improving DART.

They act as representatives of the ridership at large, not only from local and express routes and paratransit in Greater Des Moines, but also from the wider central Iowa region covered by DART’s RideShare program. They do a top-notch job of looking our for the interests of all riders. Today was the latest meeting, and it was abundantly clear that they care deeply about improving public transit service in Greater Des Moines and beyond.

Many thanks and a job well done, TRAC members.

Hello, Students. Welcome to DART, Refugees

Readers:

Two cool new ridership programs got the green light from the DART Commission earlier this week:

  • Reduced-fare program for students
  • Reduced-fare program for refugees
That’s right. All middle school and high school students in the metro, from any school in DART’s 19 member cities, will soon be able to use their student IDs to buy bus passes at a reduced rate, in the ballpark of 50 percent off. Not a bad deal. A program like this is one of the most requested at DART, especially from parents looking for transportation options for their kids.
It’s basically the same deal for refugees, a population with some of the greatest need for alternative transit. Working through qualified area agencies, refugees will be able to acquire a DART ID card with which they can purchase bus passes and tokens at a reduced rate — again, in the ballpark of 50 percent off. The card will be good for five years.
Both of these programs have been in the works for a couple of months now, and with the go-ahead from the Commission, it’s a matter of getting all the details in order before launching the program in early 2012.
Any questions? Give us a call at 515.283.8100.

Take Your Best Shot

Dear Readers:

A challenge for you the next time you ride DART: Grab your camera and take your best shot.

DART is holding a Community Photo Contest and is calling for submissions. Click here for contest rules.

Do it to show your love for DART. Or do it for a chance to win a $150 Visa card. Either way. We won’t discriminate.

We want photos of showing DART out in the many communities it serves. Not just in the metro, but many miles beyond if you’re a RideShare vanpool customers. We want photos of customers, stops, buses, vans — anything and everything that illustrates DART as a vital thread in the community fabric.

Bit of inspiration from DART’s collection:

Can you do better? Just keep  the photos clean and we won’t have any problems. Email your best photos to dart@ridedart.com or mail them to 1100 DART Way, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Good luck!

— Gunnar

 

 

 

 

 

New boss — more stories

Good morning, readers, and apologies for the long lull in blog posts. Good news! Your editor has a new boss — official announcement due out soon — who’s bringing a renewed focus on telling the story of DART.

As you know, there’s much to tell, with all of the projects in the works including new facilities, new technologies, and a whole new transit network. But as much as there is to tell about us, I want to hear and share more stories about you, the riders. This is your transit system, after all.

Do you have any story ideas? Maybe an interesting rider with an cool story, or some topic about using DART that you’d like to see covered. Are there any operators you’d like to know more about?

Please send your ideas to thebusblog@ridedart.com

Yours,

Gunnar Olson