Phyllis has to take three buses every day just to get to work. Yesterday, on the way home, one of these buses was late and so it took Phyllis almost three hours to get home from her job at Warren Central High School. The wind chill at her bus stop, by the way, was close to zero.
hyllis was one of almost 200 people who attended one of two IndyGo open houses at the Urban League last week. The purpose of these meetings was to collect input and ideas from IndyGo riders about how the city's widely derided public transit service might be improved.
The open houses were hosted by a team of consultants from Manuel Padron and Associates, the urban transportation consulting firm based in Lake Mary, Fla. MPA, which has been researching IndyGo for the past three months, has studied a wide variety of systems in such cities as Columbus, Ohio, Orlando, Fla., Cleveland and Augusta, Ga.
Indianapolis' situation is "significantly behind" such peer cities as Cincinnati, Charlotte, N.C., Louisville, Ky., Milwaukee and Providence, R.I., according to Tim Crobons of MPA. But, he added, "There are a lot of communities in the same situation."
That situation includes the need to address the fact that an increasing number of city residents are finding employment around the outer reaches of the city's beltway, just one of a number of challenges that the current IndyGo system does not adequately address.
Crobons explained that last week's open houses were not intended to make recommendations regarding possible service improvements. These sessions were designed to give the public a chance to voice their desires about such issues as bus frequency, route extensions and new service areas. MPA will use this information, along with their own research, to draft recommendations, which they will present to the IndyGo board in late February. These recommendations will then be the subject of a series of public meetings to be held in early March.
Once a set of recommendations is agreed upon, IndyGo will then have to determine how to pay for improvements. At present, IndyGo does not have a dedicated funding source to support its service. Dedicated funding sources play a major role in insuring the stability and quality of public transit services in other cities. Such sources may include sales, license tag or gas taxes.
Citizens who want their voices to be heard in the process of trying to improve the city's public transit system can call the Metropolitan Planning Organization's 24-hour Comment Line at 317-327-8601, or can go to the DIRECTIONS Discussion Board at www.indygov.org/indympo/rapid_transit/rts.htm.