Here We Grow focuses on developing regional workforce housing strategies that focus on locating housing with access to jobs, affordability, and equity. In Greater Des Moines, one of our key partners in making securing these goals in communities is Des Moines Area Regional Transit or DART. This guest post is provided by DART.
From residents and visitors to businesses and communities, DART provides value to all. Let’s dig into DART’s impact and explore how a decrease in public transit service could affect quality of life across the region.
An economic driver
Strong public transit supports job creation, worker attraction/retention and economic activity. Every $1 invested in transit results in $4 in economic development.*
Most people use public transit to make or spend money.
A workforce essential
• 87% of central Iowa leaders express concern that they won’t be able to meet future workforce needs.+
• The #1 reason people ride DART is to get to jobs, cited by 57% of riders surveyed.
Simply put, access to transit is a critical piece to employing central Iowans.
An equity tool
Of DART riders surveyed, 30% make below $12,000 per household annually. And DART serves a higher percentage of low-income persons, people of color, veterans and individuals with disabilities compared to the overall population.
“Many students I work with have various disabilities [and] the bus system is the bridge to enjoying an independent life. Their lives would be drastically limited without public transportation.”
— Mary, sign language interpreter at Des Moines Public Schools
Bottom line: DART improves quality of life by removing lack of transportation as a barrier to accessing opportunities across the region.
Key to future growth
DART has stretched its services to meet growth: Since 2009, regional population increased 24% while DART’s services increased 1%. And as the fastest-growing major metro in the Midwest, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, central Iowa's population growth is expected to reach 1 million with a 40% increase in jobs by 2040.
Is transit infrastructure aligned for growth? Now is the time to rally behind the most critical needs of the central Iowa community, including public transit.
DART is currently facing a major budget shortfall that could result in substantial service reductions in the coming year. The transit authority is seeking public comments through December 15 on how to plan for these service changes and the impact they could have on community members.