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Keep pushing for Indy Connect

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made a surprise appearance at the National Bike Summit in Washington DC. The Secretary made a strong pitch for diversified transportation options, as the Streetsblog article does a fine job of highlighting. This is another sign to me that the time is right for Indy Connect.

To be honest, improvements like Indy Connect probably could have happened 20 years ago, but perhaps a benefit to our traditional Hoosier conservative approach is that we can also learn from other cities’ progress and pitfalls. One way that I think we have learned is by starting out the plan with an improved IndyGo instead of solely focusing on rail. However, an issue that we absolutely have to solve is the lack of walkable density around suburban transit hubs, which is a concern that I have yet to see addressed. I also have not attended a meeting, so I’m hoping to find out more information about their plans.

Finally, another interesting tidbit about that is worth pointing out is that the light rail plan also includes high-frequency service, as mentioned by Huston Street Racing. Great catch!

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10 Responses to “ “Keep pushing for Indy Connect”

  1. Curt says:

    It's tough to figure out how the planners would affect zoning change in this whole deal. I feel like it needs to happen but wonder if this is the right group to be pushing that agenda.

  2. Kevin says:

    Good point. If nothing else I can ask about that and they could point us in the right direction.

  3. cdc guy says:

    Given Indiana's "strong property rights" constitution, there's no way to force termination of any legally-existing use.

    Planning and re-zoning will not drive land-use decisions. Economics will.

    In the case of transit and greenways…if you build it, they will come. So IMO the answer is to plan and build the transit first, rezone land as demand for new uses becomes apparent.

  4. Kevin says:

    I agree with all of that.

  5. Curt says:

    I would accept that too. I claim ignorance here for the most part but know enough to be able to say something should change.

  6. Kevin says:

    Right. If all we build are park-and-rides, I'm not sure if that is all that great of a shift in our tranportation system. Plus, I'm also not sure if they'd get the kind of ridership they are hoping for.

  7. cdc guy says:

    Park and ride is probably the best option for suburban-form areas to start.

    For example, think of all the parking lots along the Northeast line at 62nd and 71st.

    Likewise, east of Irvington on Washington.

    That's how a lot of the suburban areas in DC looked when Metro was built out in the 70s and 80s. But if you look around the suburban stations now, they're almost as dense as the District in some places.

  8. Kevin says:

    That's good to know, cdc; however, the Metro is so far ahead even Indy Connect's 25 year plan at this point, and DC's core is so much more dense than ours.

    I hope you can understand my skepticism about our ability to add proper density in suburban areas. I look around downtown and see a sea of surface parking lots that have been around for decades, so naturally I wonder if it would be much different at a suburban park-and-ride. I agree with you that planners can't really "force" the kind of density that you see at the station in, say, Bethesda, Maryland; however, in the past we have gone the opposite way and made it basically illegal.

    It sounds like we agree on most of these issues. I appreciate when you speak up and give the pragmatist's manifesto. I find that at times I can be both pragmatic and an idealist. It's kind of tough to satisfy both of those urges at once, but I'm trying.

  9. cdc guy says:

    Radical moderation, I call it.

    :)

    But you're right: I agree with your vision and aims. In community development work, it helps a lot to have a 10-25 year view. Keeps a person from going insane, and allows a person to think about "what do we do in the meantime as a transition". Steps to improvement, not leaps.

    I was specifically thinking of Bethesda and Silver Spring in DC when I wrote the comment. A college classmate lived in Bethesda at the time. I think when the stations went in, they were at 50's strip malls on suburban boulevards. After a few years you couldn't possibly recognize them.

    You correctly point out the need to add density in such places; I really believe that the market will do that after the trains run. Markets function in the suburbs.

    I'm concerned with reinforcing the density that exists already on the near north and near east sides. Those areas are already built as pedestrian and transit-friendly. Those neighborhoods are planned to be the core of the revitalized/expanded IndyGo…but if no one wants to live there empty buses will be the result.

    A related concept that was not discussed in the Indy Connect meetings: once again re-branding IndyGo. The name was changed from Metro to IndyGo in the 90s, probably as part of Mayor Goldsmith's effort to fix the system and attract discretionary riders: this isn't the bad old Metro.

    As a result of this round of system improvement, a full-system name should be selected that applies to city bus, suburban bus, express bus and train. And it should be new. CIRTA, IMTA (Indianapolis Metropolitan Transit Authority), something with no stigma.

  10. Curt says:

    cdc you bring good points to the table. In addition, if this all gets off the ground transfers are going to be inevitable from one mode to another and I think it would be fruitful (neccesary in MY opinion) to make sure that all modes subscribe to the same fair governing. Get off the bus at a train stop and heading downtown? The same ticket should be used without having to purchase something new. Make it functional across all modes. There are many places that they can stumble, and these fine details need stating.

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