Transit in Indy Takes Another Turn

The IndyStar has a good piece on IndyConnect’s revised mass transit plan for Central Indiana:

Gone — or at least delayed until the mid- to late 2030s — are plans for a light-rail line running along Washington Street from the Far Eastside out toward Indianapolis International Airport on the Far Westside. Instead, a cheaper, rail-like service called bus rapid transit, or BRT, would run from the Far Eastside to the airport.

Elsewhere, the $2.4 billion plan calls for more buses, too: more buses on fixed IndyGo routes in Indianapolis, more express buses shuttling commuters, and more buses on mostly undefined circulator routes in the suburbs.

It works like this:

  • Rail from the north suburbs to the southern ones (Noblesville to Franklin). So, better service for the higher-income earners.
  • Expanded busses running east-to-west from the airport to, I guess, Meijer on Washington Street. Wee.
  • It costs a lot of money.

My support for this comes from where it normally does: “How does this benefit me?” Seeing as how I don’t drive as much as I used to, it doesn’t. Therefore, I don’t want to pay the estimated $15 a month extra in taxes. And I don’t trust a public official enough to actually think they’ll keep it at $15. Make it $5 and we’ll talk. (Hey, at least I’m honest.)

The problem with mass transit is that it’s very one-sided, in that the people who take it will always take it. Those that don’t, for whatever reason, probably never will. I imagine I’d only ever take it if my car had a flat tire or was in the garage. No one is going to take the bus to Wal-Mart and lug all their groceries on a bus, for example. So, it only makes sense to put the cost burden on the people that actually use it. And I don’t care what you say, a bus stop in front of a business or intersection isn’t going to increase the good mojo of that area. It’s a bus, not one of those sucker-tubes from Futurama.

So, $5 in taxes from everyone in the region, per month, then divide up the remainder in service fees and use charges for riders. Support approved! A current bus pass costs about $60 a month. You could make it $100 and it’s still way cheaper than a car, which including the payment, can be about $500+ a month. Then your marketing becomes, “Save $5,000 a year by riding IndyGo, then you can go on vacation!”.

Or, do what I would prefer: sell IndyGo to the highest bidder like Greyhound or Miller, you know, people who know how to run a bus, and let them figure it out. Service would no doubt improve and be practical and in line with demand, marketing would be top-notch to entice more riders and the costs would no doubt be half that of anything the government could supply.

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