This is the fourth in a series of stories by Kimmel, who's given up her car and is relying primarily on public transit.
From lungfish to human on an evolutionary scale, “IndyGo is operating as a human walking on two feet and dragging its knuckles,” according to Samantha Cross, Director of Business Development at IndyGo.
I spent Wednesday evening at IndyFringe watching comedian Phil van Hest, Cross and Ehren Bingaman, Executive Director of CIRTA, find the humor in our current public transit system at ‘Funny About That — Super Bowl wrap-up, Public Transport, Maybe Robots. And God.’
You know the saying ‘sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t go insane’? It applies to my experience with our transit system and I’m happy that van Hest, Cross and Bingaman brought that to light.
The reality is even Columbus, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich., have bigger and better transit systems than we do. Furthermore, the funding for our improvements has been postponed, once again, until 2013. During the week of the Super Bowl, when Hoosiers were actually witnessing what a successful transit system looks like, the legislature was busy killing the referendum that would provide a future of traveling ease.
Let me sum up some of the things I took from the show — some humorous, some sad and some simply interesting:
• Tax money allocated for transit is used mainly for road improvement and expansion, and very little is given to public transit improvement or expansion. The irony here is that, if people were using the public transit system instead of depending on cars, there would be a significantly less demand for road expansion. And people would be saving money, too, since the cost of commuting is a considerable portion of one’s budget. After insurance, maintenance and gas for a vehicle, factor in parking and plates, and you will be looking at a lot more money than the $60 monthly bus pass that exists today. Or a free walk or bike ride. Van Hest summarized this by saying that Americans are not smart enough to know what is good for them.
• If you live at 34th and High School Road and work at FedEx, which is fifteen minutes south, the trip would take an hour and a half via IndyGo.
• When IndyGo offered free rides during the Super Bowl, starting on Jan. 27, ridership went up immediately and over 141,000 rides were taken during the eleven-day period.
• There are buses from 1997 in the current fleet. Van Hest jokes that we should hook up horses to them and have horse-drawn buses operating in the city. To that comment, Cross added that IndyGo’s labor agreement still talks about mules.
By the end of the night, it was decided that the zipline at the Super Bowl would actually be a better form of transit for the City of Indianapolis than the system we have now.
Whether you see the humor in it or not, we need help. It is important to remember that real-life, tax-paying people are riding the bus as you read this and that the system is actually working well for some of us. The plan that has been recently developed and shot down was actually very feasible and practical.
If we have to wait until 2013 to even think about transit improvements again, it would be another three years before any money could possibly be given to IndyGo.
I often hear the question, “What can I do?” The answer is simple: Call your legislators and tell them that the issue means something to you. Act now. Vote, because it is important to get involved in the election. Sign the CIRTA petition. Go to your employer, church or other organization you are involved with and have them adopt a resolution as an organization. Then go out and tell all of your neighbors and friends to do the same.
And, if I haven’t convinced you yet, trust van Hest when he says, “Jesus wants us to have more buses.”