DART adds new bus services

Will transport dialysis patients on Saturday mornings

Dodger Area Rapid Transit now offers Saturday morning bus service and shuttle service to the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

After several years, DART decided to bring back Saturday morning door-to-door transportation for dialysis patients, and others on demand as possible.

Service on Saturday from 7 to 11 a.m. must be reserved by 5 p.m. Friday at 515-573-8145. Rides are $3 per trip.

“A lot of the patients had passed, and nobody was riding, so we stopped it,” several years ago, said Transit Manager Jay Kammerer. “It’s been long enough that we think it’s time to offer it again. We have been hearing that there’s additional need for those on dialysis.”

The Saturday service will only have one driver picking up and dropping off those with reservations, and will not follow the normal weekday routes.

He said DART also hopes to better serve those who might rely on bus service to get things done on the weekend, particularly long holiday weekends.

Airport shuttles, also $3 per trip, should be reserved as soon as possible — at least one day before the trip, ideally. DART will serve airport customers for all flights arriving and departing from the regional airport.

“If they call the same day, we might not be able to fit them into the schedule,” Kammerer said.

The new service should be useful for those who don’t want to leave their car parked at the airport, or businesses that need clients dropped off at various locations after being flown in.

“This is a way for everybody using the airport to plug into the services we’re providing,” he said.

The transit manager says DART ridership has been steady, with successful implementation of commuter routes to the Prestage plant in Clarion that started in April. DART saw almost 1,400 rides in June alone on that route.

“That was a big deal to get that started,” he said.

But challenges still remain for a regional bus service in rural Iowa — mostly breaking the habit many in small towns tend to have in relying on cars.

“A lot of people automatically think, ‘I’ll drive wherever I’m going,'” he said. “We’ve been trying to remind people, especially in the summer, that you don’t have to leave work to drive your kids to the pool or library.”

Regular weekday routes for students and seniors are $1 each way.

But, “it’s truly for everybody,” he reminds Fort Dodge.

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