Public transit use on the rise in Greater Des Moines

Increases follow investments in DART Central Station, DART Forward 2035 Plan

Use of public transit is on the rise in Greater Des Moines, DART ridership data shows. DART’s ridership increased more than 7 percent in the first six months of fiscal year 2014, compared to the same period of fiscal year 2013. Ridership totaled 347,213 in December – a 15 percent increase over December 2012.

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Ridership figures for the month of December are especially significant, because December is the first reporting period for which year-over-year comparisons can be made on all of DART’s individual routes after the network redesign of 2012. (A list of the fastest growing routes is included below.)

“The region’s investment in public transit is paying off,” said Steve Van Oort, Polk County Supervisor and Chair of the DART Commission. “People told us they would ride DART more often if the bus went more places, more frequently, with faster travel times – and that’s what we’re seeing happen in the numbers.”

The ridership gains follow significant investments into the region’s public transit system:

  • The $21 million DART Central Station opened in November 2012 in downtown Des Moines, providing riders with a much-improved experience over the former Walnut Street Transit Mall;
  • A redesigned and expanded network of bus routes was implemented in June and November of 2012 as part of the DART Forward 2035 Plan;
  • Service improvements, including frequency additions, a new route and  later hours, were made in August 2013;
  • Technology enhancements such as the MyDART Trip Planner BETA were launched in October 2013, making it easier for people to plan their trips on transit. People can now also search for transit directions using Google Maps and Bing Maps.

Additional improvements will be made in the coming year as part of the DART Forward 2035 Plan. Real-time bus location information will become available later in 2014. A new fare collection system with smart cards will be added in late 2015.

DART promoted the improved routes in October 2013 during Try Transit Week, a seven-day promotion that resulted in 108,000 rides – a 20 percent increase over the previous week’s total of more than 90,000 rides. In February, DART will host “DART Date Night” on Friday, February 14, offering free rides after 5 p.m. for Valentine’s Day.

Fastest Growing New or Improved DART Routes

Route Name

Service Improvement

December 2012 Ridership

December 2013 Ridership

Percent Increase

Route 60 – Ingersoll/University

New route

15,763

26,354

67 percent

Altoona Express Route 99

Added trips

1,573

2,263

44 percent

E.P. True Express Route 96

Service to Jordan Creek

1,862

2,634

41 percent

Jordan Creek / Valley West Crosstown Route 52

New route

8,270

11,228

36 percent

Flex Route 72 – West Des Moines and Clive

New route; replaced WDM On Call

2,553

3,451

35 percent

Route 15 – 6th Avenue

Streamlined route

19,558

24,661

26 percent

Route 6 – Indianola Avenue

Streamlined route; added frequency

18,314

22,622

24 percent

Route 17 – Hubbell Avenue

Streamline route; added frequency

13,795

16,831

22 percent

Ankeny Express Route 98

Midday service added

6,076

7,369

21 percent

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Find Next DART Bus Arrivals on your Smartphone

Did you know the MyDART mobile site does more than just plan trips? One feature, Next DART Bus, lists the next scheduled bus arrivals at your bus stop.

MyDART Mobile

1) Go to mydart.ridedart.com in your mobile browser. 2) Click on the DART logo on the upper left corner to navigate to all the MyDART mobile features which includes Trip Planner, Route Schedules, Next DART Bus, and Bus Stop Finder. 3) Click on the “Next DART Bus” link to get to the page.

Mobile Index

Next Bus Mobile

4) To use the Next DART Bus feature, simply type in the Bus Stop ID and 5) hit the purple button at the bottom that says “Next DART Bus.” The time and date will automatically open with the current time so you can easily use it when you arrive at your stop. You can adjust the time if you are looking for future trips. Not sure what your bus stop ID is? The stop ID is posted underneath the DART Bus Stop sign and is a three- or four-digit number.

Next DART Bus approximates the time the bus is scheduled to arrive based on its distance from the last timepoint. These are approximate times; actual arrival times may vary depending on traffic and weather. In the future, real-time bus arrival information will be available.

Looking for easy access to Next DART Bus? Bookmark the page to your home screen or in your browser. Check out these directions on how to bookmark pages on your smartphone:

More information about the MyDART Trip Planner, including a full user guide, is available on the DART Website. Click here to visit for more information.

Did you know there were other features than just the Trip Planner on the MyDART site? Have your tried Next DART Bus? Let us know!

Bus Stop IDs, Explained

By now you’ve probably noticed the orange Bus Stop ID signs on DART bus stops – and wondered, “What are these?”ID number

The three- and four-digit numbers on the Bus Stop IDs, found below the DART bus stop sign, are the unique numbers assigned to every bus stop in the bus system. This number has numerous uses for riders, especially now that the MyDART Trip Planner BETA has launched.

You can use them to make sure you’re at the right stop. You also use this number to find out when the next bus is scheduled to arrive, find out if there are any alerts affecting your bus stop, or plan a trip from or to that bus stop. This ID number is referenced throughout DART and can even be used when calling a DART Customer Service representative for schedule information or reporting bus stop issues to DART staff.

tripplanner ID

You will find Bus Stop ID numbers throughout the trip planning products. For example, when you click on a bus stop, the MyDART Trip Planner will include the Bus Stop ID number. The bus stop ID Number is presented at the top of the information box. In this example, the bus stop at University Avenue & Cummins Parkway in Des Moines is #2615. 

The Google Maps trip planner also uses the bus stop ID when giving directions. In this example the bus stop ID is #2248 at Indianola Road & SE 14th Street in Des Moines.

google stop ID

You can verify that you are at the right bus stop when you arrive by looking for this number at the bus stop. The bus stop ID on the sign should match the trip planner directions.

Alerts Added to MyDART Trip Planner BETA

The MyDART Trip Planner BETA now displays service alerts that are on your selected route, trip, or bus stop. This feature will notify you if a bus stop might be closed due to construction, if your route may be running a detour route during the weekend, or if there are other announcements that may affect your trip.

MyDART Trip Planner BETA now shows service alerts that affect your trip.

MyDART Trip Planner BETA now shows service alerts that affect your trip.

These announcements are developed for upcoming service alerts and may not reflect current conditions such as late buses and emergency detours.

How Do You Plan Trips Online?

DART, this fall, introduced three ways to plan transit trips by computer or smartphone – MyDART Trip Planner, Google Maps and Bing MapsAll tools utilize the same data, giving riders multiple ways to access DART schedule information.

Have you had a chance to try out these Trip Planners? Which one do you use most?

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.”