I know I have probably bored most of you with how geeked out I am on Indianapolis right now and the cool initiatives that are happening around the city that make me feel that way. But I have found yet another reason to really love what local Hoosiers are doing in order to improve the city.
We all know I have harped on the transit issue long enough, and when the "powers that be" said "no" to the transit bill and now another "no" to the sidewalk and infrastructure bond issue, I, like many others, have become disheartened to the point of frustration and decided to devote my time and thoughts to other things.
About a day after the transit bill was put on hold (again), I bought a car. This came partially from the disheartened feeling and partially because I took a new job in the "'burbs," but, after two years of being car-free, I had to make the purchase.I looked into a strategic plan for car sharing and got on board with on demand ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft, but it just was not going to work for me.
While shopping for a car, my heart and mind went instantly to an electric vehicle. Though, personally an electric vehicle is not quite suitable for my lifestyle (I went with a hybrid), I long for the day that the technology and capability will be able to takeover the driving scene and we will stop spending tax money on parking garages and interstate upgrades and start installing charging stations, expanding buses and developing transportation alternatives instead.
And it doesn't look too far off.
With the order that Mayor Greg Ballard signed in December, stating that the entire municipal fleet become electric or plug-in hybrid by 2025, Indianapolis received some much-needed national attention. The Mayor's support and the attention it gave us allowed Project Plug-IN, an electric car-charging infrastructure deployment initiative developed by the nonprofit Energy Systems Network, to begin making Indianapolis one of the most electric vehicle-friendly sites in the U.S.
Back in June, NUVO reported that the international development company, Bolloré Group, chose to invest roughly $35 million to launch the largest electric vehicle car-sharing program in the country.
Right here in Central Indiana.
By next year, our city will have 500 vehicles, with 1,200 charging stations in 200 locations. The charging stations will be free to users, but the program will come at a minimal cost.
Driving with very little financial cost is only part of the attraction of electric vehicles. The Hoosier Electric Vehicle Association also boasts cleaner energy, less dependence on foreign oil, local job creation and that electric vehicles are simply "fun to drive."
The car-sharing initiative also adds a new layer of public transportation to the city's makeup. The ability to rent a car short-term will provide an extra option to our residents while we sit and wait for the transit bill to finally pass and the city's bus system to improve.
"One of the most exciting things about this is how it can impact residents without a car, who may HAVE to suddenly drive somewhere," said Jane Cook, HEVA vice president. "If you have to go a county away; if you have to take a disabled relative somewhere; if you must take a large object with you—these are the times when a bus in Indianapolis won't do."
For an initiative of this caliber to be successful, it takes a lot of public awareness and education. For this reason, National Plug In Day was developed. NPID is a nationwide celebration, aimed to heighten awareness of plug-in vehicles and their benefits.
This will be the third annual event, held on Sunday, Sept. 29. The local event will be at Clay Terrace Mall from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., behind Whole Foods. Electric vehicle owners will have a chance to tailgate and there will be information booths, speakers and display vehicles.
As Indianapolis falls behind other cities in public transit development, it is my hope that a city-wide electric car-sharing program will not only give those without a car an option for travel, but will make those residents who do have cars take a second look at the need for car ownership. These initiatives, and the other car-sharing and car-pooling programs like Uber and Lyft, are a solid effort on Indy's part to take some cars off the road.
Indianapolis, I anxiously applaud you.