A few short weeks from now, the long-awaited Red Line will open, providing increased service on the route between Broad Ripple and the University of Indianapolis. This transformational project – alongside expanded service across the whole system – will connect several neighborhoods, institutions, cultural amenities and businesses on the rapid bus corridor, with buses arriving every 10 minutes.
In cities across the country, young residents are foregoing their cars for alternative modes of transportation. In Indy, not only are our 20- and 30-somethings advocating for more effective and inclusive transit options, they are leading the efforts to get us there.
“It’s an amazing experience coming to work every day with a group of individuals that are all here to make an impact in their community by helping others. The fact that we are all young, and will get to see the impact of our work for generations to come adds to that emotion,” remarks Brandon Evans, Community Engagement Manager at IndyGo.
Brandon goes on to share that the Red Line route will come within a quarter mile of more than 50,000 residents and nearly 150,000 jobs, which makes up a quarter of all jobs in Marion County. “The positive impact that the Red Line will have on people’s daily lives is simply amazing,” he adds.
Since 2013, we’ve learned through our research that public transportation is consistently one of the top issues for millennials living in Indianapolis. Though younger generations are often on board for more transit, midwestern cities like Indianapolis are often reliant on (and designed for) cars. This transit-oriented mindset has slowly become more prevalent, but we still have our fair share of challenges to overcome.
Transit Drives Indy is a coalition of organizations advocating for this shifting mindset. They aim to educate Marion County residents on the benefits of public transportation. Matt Impink, formerly of the Indy Chamber and now Executive Director at Indy Achieves, worked with Transit Drives Indy as they led the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign for the Marion County Transit Plan and referendum in 2016. Matt remembers the challenge for residents to see the benefits of supporting transit in our city, but they had data on their side.
“It was a stark case to make to people that are proud to live in the 15th largest city in the US that we only had the 83rd largest bus fleet,” Matt stated. Nearly everyone he had spoken with at public meetings or engagement sessions had visited other large cities with transit systems and enjoyed the experience, thinking it very normal for a major city to provide effective transit options.
While the Red Line won’t turn Indy into a transit leader overnight, it is a big step in the right direction. The successful passing of the 2016 referendum has revived the growth of transit options in our city and will lead to additional rapid bus lines connecting the East and West.
Matt shares, “This will be a symbolic triumph for the city that we are a modern, urban place. Mass transit is often a key symbol of urbanity, connectedness, and opportunity. More importantly, however, this is about getting people to where they need to go. Before the expansion, riders often spent hours on the bus to get to their destination. With the Red Line as the spine of our system followed by the Purple and Blue lines in the years to come, riders can transfer to the BRT lines and cut their commute to a fraction of what is was previously.”
Jerome Horne, Ridership Experience Specialist at IndyGo and a Class VI graduate of IndyHub’s 1828 Project says he is most excited to have the densest corridor in the state of Indiana connected by a fast and frequent transit line. More importantly, Jerome says, is the fact that, “this line will bring different kinds of people from all walks of life together.”
Jerome is a part of Young Professionals in Transportation, a group of organizations that aim to foster collaboration, fellowship, and professional development for young leaders in the transportation industry. Through creating the Indianapolis chapter, he has joined the board for the international organization and met 20- and 30-somethings around the world who have an appreciation for cities and transit.
“Having this network of people has been valuable as I’ve been able to collaborate professionally and make new friends with folks in the transportation industry,” Jerome shares. Utilizing this network as a sounding board has especially been helpful as the IndyGo team approaches launch day.
So, what does this mean for our communities? It means that people will be able to spend less time commuting and more time doing what they enjoy. Imagine the student from any of Indianapolis’ universities for whom the Red Line provides new access to the museums and cultural amenities downtown or in Midtown. Consider the X-Ray Technician—like workers all over our city—who won’t have to wait 45 minutes for the next bus to the hospital. Think of the mother who will be able to use the Red Line to drop her kids off at School 70 on her way to work. What’s more, people with disabilities, the elderly, and those most vulnerable in our city will have an easier (and safer) time accessing and riding the bus. This system is important for all people in Indianapolis and it will change the face of our city for generations.
Lauren Day, Director of Public Relations at IndyGo and Class II graduate of IndyHub’s 1828 Project says, “Mobility—making it easier for people to get around—is so critical for a better quality of life and a livable city for all of our neighbors. People count on transit – more and more people each year – and IndyGo is committed to making that a reliable and efficient service.”
Lauren is most excited to see how people in Indianapolis will change their behavior when the Red Line launches. Knowing that this system will be more dependable for those who have been utilizing the bus service for years and become a realistic alternative for those who have not yet ridden it is an opportunity for our city to shine. With the launch of the MyKey fare cards, that include tap-and-go features either by card or mobile app, it will now be easier than ever to ride IndyGo.
From IndyHub’s first research report in 2013, our partnership with IndyGo on The Dinner Series, through our continued engagement with connecting people and places in our city, we are so proud of the IndyGo team. Their work over the past decade and especially the past few years will make our city more connected and accessible.
So what’s happening during launch week? Check out the schedule of events and mark your calendar for September 1. If you’re as excited as I am, you can even volunteer and sign up to be a Red Line Ambassador! I’ll definitely be riding, will you? It’s free to hop on the entire month of September, so you have no excuses!
Below are a few resources Jerome shared with us as ways to stay engaged and informed as we approach September: