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DART starts a new microtransit pilot program in Ankeny

DART's new On Demand program will operate within a limited area in Ankeny
Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority
DART's new On Demand program will operate within a limited area in Ankeny

The Des Moines area's public transportation system has begun a new pilot program serving parts of Ankeny.

DART On Demand will replace the On Call program. It allows riders to use an app and choose their pick up and drop off location within a set area, similar to ride share apps. Riders can also use it to connect to DART bus stops to get on bus routes.

Based on feedback, this pilot is a more flexible program than the one it is replacing, DART's Chief Planning Officer Luis Montoya said.

"For example, with this pilot, we’re expanding the hours, so that they cover from 6 am in the morning to 6:30 p.m., which we think makes it now something that people can now rely on to get to work," he said.

The pilot program also doesn't require riders to book a day in advance. Montoya said that is the kind of flexibility people in the area are looking for.

"When we looked at areas of our region where it would make sense, Ankeny rose to the top because it has been growing so much," he said. "We have heard from Ankeny residents and businesses that there is quite a bit of unmet transit need."

The program will last for one year.

Montoya said during the pilot, DART will be looking at wait times and usage numbers to determine its success.

In the longer term, Montoya said DART will be studying what other areas this kind of program could also work in.

Catherine Wheeler was Iowa Public Radio's All Things Considered host and a reporter from 2021 to 2023.