Des Moines Disconnected: Uniting the Metro Through Public Transportation Options
Yin, Yue (Iris)
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SubjectDes Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority; Urban transportation--Iowa--Des Moines; Local transit--Iowa--Des Moines; Transportation--Environmental aspects
Des Moines has become a city disconnected from its metropolitan suburbs. As the metro area has expanded, the growth has been limited primarily to the suburbs. While the downtown has experienced an “urban renaissance” in the past decade, citizens continue to report that they don’t go downtown because of parking issues and the fact that they can do or buy the same things more conveniently in their own suburb. This paper examines the history and economic conditions that led to this problem and seeks to propose a long-term option to address it: expanding the public transportation system and modifying it to incorporate the benefits of a hub-and-spoke model. In the course of this analysis, the authors conducted a survey of Des Moines and suburban residents to determine their attitudes regarding downtown and public transportation options. They also compared Des Moines to several other Midwestern cities with more mature transportation systems. The proposed changes to the system include designating High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on metro interstate highways and upgrades to the bus system that could be incorporated into the current Des Moines Area Regional Transportation (DART) authority’s long-term plan, DART Forward 2035. In addition, the team suggests that the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization should reassess the feasibility of a light rail system and/or an electric streetcar system.