DART is a national leader in developing and testing new transportation ideas that emerge from rapidly changing technology and the private sector. Integrating new approaches into our system allows DART to leverage the strengths of these mobility options, complement our core services, and give choices to our customers. This approach will help DART navigate the future and ensure that the agency continues to meet the needs of its customers across the region.
DARTzoom℠ Bus Network Redesign will prepare for region's future growth
DART bus riders in August experienced the most significant bus service change in nearly a decade, the first step toward the DARTzoom Bus Network Redesign, the agency's initiative to improve the bus rider experience.
Many customers now enjoy better frequency, more direct routes, expanded weekday and weekend service hours, and schedule adjustments to improve on-time performance and transfers. Early indicators suggest that weekday and weekend ridership is increasing on many of the adjusted routes.
For example, Route 409 was divided into two routes: 409 and 426. The new Route 409 became a core route with higher frequency and expanded hours. Early results indicate that ridership should increase at least 15% from the 409/426 change.
This January, the agency executed a small service change focused on schedule adjustments and issues that arose from the August 2019 changes. DART anticipates two more service changes this year in June and September.
New plan will address ridership and coverage goalsThese changes are just the beginning. DART hired Jarrett Walker + Associates (JWA), a leading transit planning and policy consulting firm, in September to reenvision the agency's bus network. The DARTzoom Bus Network Redesign will lead to the DARTzoom Bus Service Plan. The goal is to create a plan that guides the agency decades into the future.
"A new plan is important because while population and jobs within the DART Service Area continue to grow, there have been significant demographic and employment shifts in the region that have impacted the effectiveness of the bus system," said Todd Plesko, DART's vice president of service planning and development. "A complete redesign lets us determine the most effective network for today that serves how people use transit now."
JWA will build on the findings of the Comprehensive Operations Analysis conducted in 2014-2015 and will design bus network options that best balance ridership and coverage priorities with limited resources. The consultants also will recommend additional bus service if the agency's finances improve beyond what is predicted in the 20-year financial plan.
The planning process will include a robust outreach effort to riders, stakeholders, elected officials and bus operations staff. JWA is tasked with both collecting input on where people believe bus service should go and with educating these key audiences on the ridership-coverage trade-offs.
"The new DARTzoom Bus Service Plan will outline our vision for what we would like our bus network to ultimately be, including the capital investments needed to make it fully work, which may require additional funding in the future," Plesko said.
DART staff also are updating the Transit System Plan, the agency's long-range plan for future capital and operating programs, which will incorporate the new DARTzoom Bus Service Plan. Upon approval of the Transit System Plan by the DART Board, the agency estimates it will implement the first phase of recommendations with a major bus service change in January 2022.
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