The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority formally unveiled its new image to the community last week, culminating a partnership between 20 jurisdictions in Polk County.

"This is exciting news for Greater Des Moines," said Christine Hensley, DART Commission chair. "I truly commend the way everyone joined forces to bring DART to our communities. It's been a long process, but we're pleased with how it all came together."

The Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority was created in 1973. The original members were Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, Windsor Heights and Urbandale. In response to the business community's need to attract employees, the MTA developed carpool and vanpool service within a 14-county area surrounding Polk County. But with population growth in other areas of the county, an increased need to provide services to communities outside the MTA's jurisdiction made the decision to expand the organization obvious, said Brad Miller, general manager of DART. So in early 2006, Polk County and 19 cities voted to create and join a regional transit authority, thus creating DART.

"People don't live within the lines of a specific boundary anymore," Hensley said. "This will help shape the future of our community and improve the way we connect to one another."

At an official ceremony last week, a new bus stop sign, logo and bus were unveiled to the public. The new signs will have the DART logo as well as the bus route number and a phone number.

"There have been many times in my life where I've been standing at a bus stop, wondering whether the bus would ever come," Miller said. "With the phone number and route number on the sign, people can call if they have any doubts as to whether they are at the right stop. That will help make life easier for our riders."

The DART name will replace the former MTA moniker, though it will take some time to completely change all the signage that is now in place.

"As DART grows, additional services will become available across the region," Miller said. "What we want residents to be aware of now is that our name is changing and our offerings will continue to expand, but our riders can continue to depend on us just as they do today."

Miller said the expansion of service has already begun with the new bus line from Johnston to downtown. But other services, such as trying to implement routes on Sundays and holidays, a shuttle service for the downtown area and a rapid transit system, are all in the works.

"We want to eliminate any barriers to riding public transit," he said.