PHOENIX – Leave those walking shoes at home. The Downtown Area Shuttle Circulator (DASH) route is expanding to connect riders with more entertainment, shopping, and housing in downtown Phoenix north to Roosevelt Street.
The city’s Public Transit Department posted an online survey in January detailing four possible routes. The proposed routes were generated during the first phase of the project when DASH users were asked where they would like to see additional service, said Brenda Yáñez, public transit information officer for Phoenix.
“When we went out during phase one, we made it a point to ask riders what they used it for and what they would like to see,” Yáñez said.
The current 2.8-mile government loop from downtown to the Arizona Capitol is expected to grow to an average of six miles.
RELATED: Cactus High Students Build a Road-worthy Electric Vehicle
Yáñez said the city hoped to get input from university students as well as residents and workers in downtown businesses.
Arizona State University student Cassidy Connelly said she uses DASH to travel around downtown Phoenix.
“I’m really looking forward to this route expanding into more of the downtown area,” Connelly said. “It’s going to make it a lot easier for me to get around since parking is such a pain.”
Three of the four proposed routes would expand toward the Arizona Center and downtown university campuses of Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. The fourth route would stretch into the downtown area between Third and Fifth avenues.
“Different people utilize public transit for different things,” Yáñez said. “It’s our goal to continue going back to the public to meet the needs of our riders.”
DASH operates weekdays from the Capitol to Fourth Avenue and Washington Street. It’s a free service and will continue to be free after the expansion. Once the new routes are implemented, DASH will operate on weekends and have expanded hours on weekdays.
Yáñez said that the new service is expected to start in October.
Once public comment is reviewed and a route is selected, it will be presented to the Phoenix City Council for approval.
DASH has been operational since 1991 and has an average daily ridership of 400 to 500 riders.
The expansion project is part of the city’s Transportation 2050 program approved in 2016. T2050 is Phoenix’s 35-year plan dedicated to improving multiple modes of transportation. It is overseen by a Citizens Transportation Commission.
Funding is being generated by a 0.7% sales tax that started in 2016. Phoenix expects sales tax revenue to generate more than half of the estimated $31.5 billion in overall T2050 funding over 35 years.
Additional plans include upgrading buses, adding shaded structures at bus stops, as well as security and technology enhancements.