had more response and interest in this plan than all of the previous
initiatives combined," says Lori Miser, Executive Director of the Metropolitan
Planning Organization (MPO). She's speaking of Indy Connect, a public
discussion on a fresh plan for Central Indiana's transportation future.
in February, the transit plan recommends a phased, multi-pronged boost to
transit options in the region: light rail up and down Washington Street,
commuter service on existing rail tracks from Fishers to Greenwood, express bus
routes, more trails for bikers and walkers, a few toll ways, and strategically
selected road improvements.
transit proposals over the past ten years have withered with no funding in
sight, this plan has robust support from the private sector. In 2008, a group
of CEOs from the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership boarded an IndyGo bus
for the first time, tracing the route used by a bus-dependent worker whose trip
to work took two hours. "It was eye-opening and inspirational for them," says
helped trigger the formation of the Central Indiana Transit Task Force. Task
Force members including Roland Dorson, president of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber
of Commerce, along with E&A Industries CEO Al Hubbard and others reviewed
previous plans, compared Indy's transit status to those of other cities, and
did a cost/benefit analysis.
Connect — a collaboration among the MPO, the Central Indiana Regional
Transportation Authority (CIRTA), and IndyGo — is an intense effort to
gather citizen opinion on the plan. More than 25 meetings have been held this
spring with an average attendance of 60 people at each, along with 60,000
website hits. Says Miser of the meetings to date: "While the attendees haven't
been super diverse, those who have come have been curious, interested, and supportive
of the need for more transit options."
Connect's well-designed website (IndyConnect.org), Twitter feed, and snazzy video
address one past challenge: clearly articulating the value of transit for
everyone and painting a picture of Indiana's transit future. Once public
comment is tallied, the plan will be revised over the summer, adopted by the
end of the year, and brought to the state legislature. "We'll ask for
permission to do a referendum to create a dedicated transit fund and an
organization to manage the expanded transit system," says Miser.
Indiana politicians adore building roads, a lack of governmental support for
expanded bus service and rail of any kind appears to be a failure of
imagination as well as economic savvy: for every $1 invested in public transit,
$4 are returned to the local economy, according to the American Public
to take it to the next level," says Mike Terry, IndyGo's President and CEO. "This
plan has the greatest potential to come to fruition because the business
community has taken a serious look at the value of transit as a key component
of economic growth."
points out that true transit solutions will increase access to health care,
employment, education, and retail for the aging population and those without
cars (twenty-five percent of Indy residents either do not own a car or live in
a two-worker household with one car only). Just shoring up IndyGo — which
ranks dead last out of the 100 largest bus systems nationwide — "is not
the same as investing in a multi-faceted system that actually drives ridership
by meeting the needs of many residents," says Terry.
Connect requests citizen comment on the plan for our city's transportation
future — and comment to legislators when funding is considered.
remaining Indy Connect meeting dates, request a meeting at your venue, take a
variety of short surveys, or see a video about the plan at IndyConnect.org.