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DART to launch rides-on-demand service

The pilot for the new program will be starting this fall in Ankeny, with another slated for West Des Moines soon after.

DES MOINES, Iowa — When you think of rideshare, companies like Uber and Lyft probably come to mind first. But some Iowans will be seeing another option rolling out soon.

DART, the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, recently announced that they will be piloting a microtransit program in central Iowa. The idea is to provide more flexibility for riders than a traditional bus route with limited stops. 

"It's really appropriate for places where destinations are more spread out, and people might have trouble walking to a bus stop," said Luis Montoya, Chief Planning Officer for DART. "So they're able to take a service from door to door, rather than having to navigate a bus route and a bus schedule."

It'll work a lot like any other rideshare. You'll be able to get on an app, request a ride from your location to wherever you're trying to go, and a DART driver and vehicle will pick you up and bring you over. All of the vehicles used will also be fully ADA-accessible.

"Every DART vehicle is outfitted with a wheelchair lift for those who need it. And we also have our fareboxes on board that accept many different types of payment, including cash or pass options," Montoya said.

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The pilot for the new program will be starting this fall in Ankeny, with another slated for West Des Moines soon after. The Ankeny pilot won't be removing any existing bus routes. 

However, the eventual West Des Moines addition will be replacing Route 72 in the area.

The microtransit plans came about from DART's long-term planning proposal, which involved talking to community members about the ways they use public transit— and how it can be improved. 

"When we think about areas in particular where we might want to expand access to transit, we want to look at ones that that hit grocery stores and medical needs, and the types of jobs that where people are working on the weekends," Montoya said.

If you're wanting to provide feedback on the microtransit plans, or anything else DART-related, they're holding public meetings to do just that. The first one was earlier Monday, with more to come through on Oct. 18. 

A link to a list of those meetings can be found here.

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