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Reproduced from Des Moines Area Transit Authority; Chart: Axios Visuals

The total number of rides were increasing on Des Moines' public transit system. Then the pandemic hit.

What happened: Social distancing and remote work/schooling led to overall monthly ride decreases between 50-60% as compared to the previous year.

The impact: DART cut the number of express routes in response to the decrease in demand.

  • But service on regular routes is operating at near normal.
  • The system is seeing nearly 6,000 rides each weekday in our metro.
  • One benefit to fewer riders: Social distancing is easier.

The big picture: Multiple studies show public transportation is generally safer than many feared last year.

  • Yes, but: Masks are a must. Not to freak you out, but take a look at this fascinating interactive graphic from the New York Times showing how viral particles spread by a maskless person on a subway.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Lawsuits against Des Moines cops could get pricey for taxpayers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Des Moines, Iowa recently hired three lawyers at $150 an hour to represent police in two high-profile lawsuits alleging misconduct, according to city documents.

Why it matters: Taxpayer costs for litigation and potential settlements in the cases could be significant. And the lawsuits could influence long-running tensions between police and the public.

AllSpice Culinarium in Des Moines is moving to a massive new warehouse

Boxed spice sets from AllSpice in Des Moines. Photo: AllSpice

AllSpice in Des Moines' East Village recorded its "best year" ever in 2020, co-owner Rory Brown told Axios.

What's next: AllSpice is quadrupling its production space and moving to a 4,600-square-foot warehouse in Valley Junction near Fox Brewing and The Foundry this spring.

Why Des Moines' green goal is "historic"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Des Moines city leaders are calling their recent commitment to carbon-free electricity historic — but at least 170 other cities have also embraced such goals.

How it's different: Des Moines’ goal goes a step beyond the others with a commitment to completely divorce itself from fossil fuel electricity by 2035.