On Oct. 12, the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) will launch a new safety initiative for its Downtown Des Moines operations. DART bus operators have been trained on the new program, Safe Turns Ensure Pedestrian Safety (STEPS), which will be tested for two to four weeks throughout downtown Des Moines.
The 5-STEPS training program calls for a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour throughout any left or right turn and a complete stop in the middle of the turning movement before the bus crosses the second crosswalk.
Starting Oct. 12, DART will eliminate two of the nearly two dozen safety detours it implemented on its routes two months ago by eliminating all downtown left-hand turns. Following the test period, DART will gather input from its operators, riders, and safety professionals to determine if these procedures successfully enhance safe turning practices and whether or not other safety detours can be discontinued.
The safety detours that eliminated left turns to or from the Walnut Street Transit Mall will remain in effect through the test period.
Other DART safety initiatives include:
- All of DART's 250+ employees that operate vehicles will have been trained on the comprehensive Smith System defensive driving curriculum within the next two months.
- New Pedestrian Awareness signage will be installed along the Walnut Street Transit Mall next week.
- All DART buses are being equipped with automatic turning audio tones that will sound every time the turn signal is implemented, with the entire fleet to be outfitted by December.
- DART is working with the City of Des Moines to repaint the pedestrian crosswalks along Walnut Street with a brighter "ladder" design to increase awareness by both drivers and pedestrians alike.
- DART has formed a Safety Technical Advisory Committee made up of state safety professionals including police, department of transportation, and private trucking safety experts. The Committee will identify additional safety measures and review findings of external reviews by the FTA and a panel of public transit safety officials. Their recommendations are expected later this fall.