Monday, June 21, 2010

Early feedback from Indy Connect initiative helps shape public vision for regional transportation

Rail service to airport, more reliable and accessible bus service, and commuter rail to more communities with frequent stops in Indianapolis among most frequent suggestions

Early feedback from Indy Connect, Central Indiana’s transportation initiative, indicates public desire for more frequent, accessible and reliable bus service throughout Central Indiana, a light rail line with service between downtown Indianapolis and the Indianapolis International Airport, and commuter rail service that would extend north to Noblesville and other communities with multiple stops in Marion County for better inner-city connectivity.

“The level of public engagement in the Indy Connect process is exciting and encouraging. It signals that our community is ready for a robust conversation about regional transit possibilities,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

This feedback is the result of nearly 70 public meetings and smaller briefings held in the months since Central Indiana residents got their first look at a draft regional transportation plan in February, as well as thousands of questionnaires collected at meetings and through the initiative’s website, The draft plan includes enhanced and expanded bus service, roadway enhancements, and light and commuter rail—all of which are designed to work together to connect people to people and people to places throughout Central Indiana.

“These themes emerged most frequently during the initial months of the public outreach initiative, which included many one-on-one conversations and thousands of questionnaires asking open-ended questions about what Central Indiana’s public transportation system should look like,” said Ehren Bingaman, executive director of the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority.

Early responses include the following:

1. More frequent, accessible and reliable bus service throughout Central Indiana. Most respondents agree with the draft plan’s suggestion of an expanded and enhanced bus service to serve the region that includes significantly reduced wait times, longer hours of operation, more direct cross-city routes, and new service areas extending outside of Marion County. Many also say they would like to see improvements made to bus stops, including sidewalk access, shelters and park-and-ride lots.

2. Multiple rail stops within Marion County. Many respondents have expressed the importance of multiple stations and stops along the rail lines within Marion County. The proposed lines to Fishers and Greenwood would include much more frequent stops within the urban core, while providing faster express service outside Marion County.

3. Commuter rail service that would run to Noblesville and Franklin and other communities, including Broad Ripple, Carmel and Zionsville. The proposed draft plan includes commuter rail from downtown Indianapolis north to Fishers and south to Greenwood with many stops in Indianapolis and Marion County. Many respondents would like to see service along that line extended to Noblesville and south to Franklin. Others have expressed desire for a north-south line through Broad Ripple to Carmel, and a northwest line that would run through Pike Township to the Zionsville area.

4. Light rail service to the Indianapolis International Airport. Many respondents would like to see light rail from downtown Indianapolis to and from the airport.

Comment collection will be ongoing throughout the summer, and new information could reveal additional trends and priorities in regards to what Central Indiana residents are looking for in a public transportation system. Planners will use this feedback to draft a revised plan, which will be released this fall and will initiate another round of public engagement.

In terms of a public outreach campaign, Indy Connect is unprecedented in its geographic scope and community interaction. The rigorous public meeting schedule enabled transportation planners to speak one-on-one with thousands of citizens throughout the region. During this time, Indy Connect collected nearly 8,000 responses through online and paper questionnaires, phone calls, direct mail comment cards, and Facebook and Twitter comments.

“Indy Connect was launched in mid-February and already we’ve heard from more citizens in the past four months than we have heard from in any previous transportation planning effort to date,” said Lori Miser, executive director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization. “It’s clear that attitudes about public transportation are changing and Central Indiana residents are beginning to think and talk about how additional transportation options could change the way they live and get around the region. But we are still in the early stages of public comment collection, and there are still communities we need to hear from. We want to hear more.”

For more information on Indy Connect, including a draft map outlining the various modes of transportation and their proposed routes, or to submit feedback on the draft plan, go to To invite an Indy Connect representative to speak to your local organization, please send an email to

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