Monday, November 8, 2010

Indy Connect Announces Regional Transportation Plan

Indy Connect, Central Indiana’s Transportation Initiative, released a long-range transportation plan today that centers on a comprehensive regional bus system that connects to rail, as well as roadways, and bike and pedestrian walkways. The goal is to build a transportation system that connects people to work, healthcare, shopping and education and increases the region’s competitiveness, economic development opportunities and mobility.

The plan follows intensive public outreach efforts that included more than 125 meetings and community briefings throughout the region. The Indy Connect initiative represents the most comprehensive transportation planning process ever involving input from the region’s residents, businesses and community leaders.

“Central Indiana has made great strides toward becoming a world-class region and we need a public transportation system that helps us maintain and grow that position,” said Lori Miser, executive director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, a partnering organization in the Indy Connect initiative.

At the heart of the plan is a regional bus system that would provide three times the service of today’s IndyGo, with more frequency, cross-town and direct routes and extended operating hours for weekday and weekend travel.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) would be added to provide a new level of service along five dedicated routes. BRT vehicles have a more modern look than a traditional bus, and the buses run all day with 10-15 minute wait times between buses. BRT makes frequent stops and can control traffic signals to reduce travel time. Fifty-six miles of BRT service would be added to supplement the traditional bus system.

“Indianapolis and our neighboring counties have long-been in need of a comprehensive, sustainable transit system,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, chairman of the Indianapolis Regional Transportation Council. “The Indy Connect initiative and the proposed plan with its unprecedented level of public input has been the catalyst our region needs to advance forward in building a successful transportation model for our next generations.”

In this plan, rail transit would be built along existing rail lines from Union Station, north to Noblesville and south to Franklin, with frequent stops in Marion County. In addition, light rail along Washington Street would be added over time.

Plan Details

Bus Transit:

* More direct service and fewer downtown transfers, with 10 additional cross-town routes outside of downtown Indianapolis
* Buses running until midnight on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends
* Average wait times between buses of 10-20 minutes, compared to today’s 30-60 minutes
* 38 additional routes
* Seven-day-a-week service on all routes, except express routes
* 15 express routes
* 14 community-based circulators for local travel or between nearby communities
* Additional bus shelters, sidewalks, benches and bike racks
* Real-time route information via text messaging and/or displays at bus shelters
* Modern ticketing and fare collection for transfers

Bus Rapid Transit:

BRT lines would be added to highly traveled areas on 38th Street, Keystone Avenue, College Avenue, Madison Avenue and Washington Street.

Rail Transit:

Rail transit would be built on existing rail lines from Union Station to Noblesville and from Union Station to Franklin. If funding allows, rail transit could extend northwest from Union Station to Zionsville. All of these lines would serve multiple destinations within Marion County in addition to connecting to areas outside Indianapolis.

It is expected that light rail, which would run on dedicated lanes but separated from traffic, would replace BRT on Washington Street. Washington Street, from Union Station to the Indianapolis International Airport, would be the first area to have light rail. Over time, the plan calls for light rail transit along Washington Street from the Airport to Plainfield and from Union Station to Cumberland.

Next Steps

While existing and anticipated funding sources will pay for the roadway improvements and bike and pedestrian pathways outlined in the plan, a new dedicated source of local funds will be needed to implement the bus and rail components of this system.

The Indiana State Legislature ultimately will decide what kind of local funding will be used and whether or not voters will be asked to consider an increase in the local option income tax or sales tax dedicated to transit.

It is estimated that residents living in counties participating in this plan will pay an average of $15 per household per month to support new investment in an expanded transit system. It will cost approximately $2.5 billion to build the bus and rail system over the next 25 years and an average of $135 million per year to operate and maintain.

Indy Connect will launch a series of public meetings on November 8 before asking the Indianapolis Regional Transportation Council (IRTC) to adopt the plan as the official Long-Range Transportation Plan for Central Indiana.

For more information on Indy Connect, visit

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