The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority and the Principal Foundation are partnering for a second pilot program to improve transit access for riders in north Des Moines and Johnston.

According to a news release, the Principal Foundation is providing funding for DART to begin providing service on Saturday and Sunday on Local Route 5 in Johnston.

The pilot is in response to feedback DART receives from riders who want more weekend service, particularly in those areas served by Local Route 5. The added service will increase transit access in the area, including what officials say is the underserved corridor along Merle Hay Road and north to the Johnston Library. The service was identified in DART’s long-range plan, the Transit Optimization Study, which was adopted by DART’s board of commissioners earlier this year.

According to the release, the service will benefit current riders on Local Route 5 and future residents of a new Anawim housing facility that is being built in the former Days Inn near the Interstate 80 and Merle Hay interchange.

"We hope our support will lead to financial stability for those utilizing this expanded service, and the businesses and residents along this route will also benefit from the economic impact in this diverse and growing region," said Jo Christine Miles, director of the Principal Foundation. DART’s first pilot with the foundation provided free transportation for students attending Des Moines North High School and Harding Middle School for this school year.

A third pilot will focus on removing transportation barriers for a north Des Moines neighborhood that has the lowest incomes in the region. Details on that program will be released early next year.