- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The future of a free downtown shuttle in Des Moines is in doubt after an organization decided to stop contributing to the program.

Operation Downtown won’t make its annual contribution of $72,000 to the shuttle, operated for several years by the Des Moines Area Regional Transportation Authority. When it began, the city and state also contributed to the program, but that funding stopped over the years, leaving the transportation authority to pick up those costs.

It’s unclear whether the authority can or should pay for the entire program, which costs $400,000 annually.

“It’s something that is very concerning to the (DART) commission,” General Manager Elizabeth Presutti told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1KT5xiq ). “The D-Line is such a central distribution service for us downtown.”

Operation Downtown, which is managed by the Downtown Community Alliance, decided to drop its funding because the shuttle extends beyond its core mission of ensuring downtown is clean, safe and attractive, said alliance President Gene Meyer.

Operation Downtown also plans to stop funding a number of other programs.

“I hope something gets figured out, because it’s a very valuable service,” Meyer said.

City Council Member Bob Mahaffey notes the shuttle’s popularity with people at the state Capitol, downtown workers and people attending conventions.

Art Slusark, a spokesman with Meredith Corp., agreed the shuttle is valuable and expressed a willingness to discuss options with the transportation authority and other businesses to keep the service running.

“To get anywhere downtown or to the East Village, the shuttle is a great resource and especially used in the summer for our employees,” Slusark said.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com


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