Area elected officials along with civic and business leaders Tuesday endorsed a dramatic expansion of mass transit in the Indianapolis area, and together will call on the Indiana General Assembly to give local communities the flexibility they need to fund the plan and to authorize a referendum in November 2012 to give voters the final say on the plan.
This final plan is the result of nearly three years of study, and refines prior proposals based on feedback from the Indy Connect public outreach campaign, along with additional cost-benefit analysis, updated
economic projections and discussions with local officials.
The first phase of the transit plan, to be completed by 2021, focuses initially on providing the following expanded service in Marion and Hamilton counties:
- Doubles the amount of local bus service in Marion County and adds local bus service in HamiltonCounty, with significant reductions in average wait times, more direct routes, more transfer pointsoutside downtown, and longer service hours.
- Creates four ‘bus rapid transit’ (BRT) corridors, featuring the latest technology hybrid or electric vehicles, dedicated lanes and/or traffic signal prioritization, permanent stations, real-time schedule updates, and other advances on these routes:
o east to west along Washington Street, including downtown to the airport;
o 38th Street from Lawrence to Lafayette Square
o Greenwood to downtown Indianapolis through Broad Ripple to Carmel
o University of Indianapolis on the south side of Indianapolis along Keystone Avenue to Hamilton County.
- Provides six express bus routes featuring limited stops and quick access between major economic and commercial centers, including from downtown Indianapolis to the Indianapolis International Airport terminal.
- Establishes frequent bus circulator service in downtown Indianapolis linking the life sciences sectors from IU Health, IUPUI and Eli Lilly, along with service to the 10th Street commercial district; with similar circulator service provided in downtown Lawrence, Carmel, Fishers, and Noblesville.
- Creates multiple transfer hubs throughout the region for more efficient passenger service, including the location of a new transit center in downtown Indianapolis.
- Launches rail service in the existing northeast rail corridor from Indianapolis to Noblesville, with frequent stops serving destinations such as the near Eastside, Martindale-Brightwood, the State Fairgrounds, the Binford area, Castleton, and Fishers.
- In addition, the initial plan calls for completing feasibility and design studies for providing transit service in neighboring counties, including Hendricks and Johnson Counties, and completing engineering and feasibility studies with the Indianapolis International Airport on additional transit lines to the airport, including future light rail service.
To fund this expansion, the plan seeks flexibility from the General Assembly to increase the local income tax by up to 0.3% (three-tenths of a percent) in Marion and Hamilton Counties, subject to voter approval. For a family of four earning $50,000 a year, the plan would cost about $10 per month.
These revenues will be supplemented by fare receipts, estimated to cover roughly 25% of operating expenses, along with other local, state and federal revenues currently supporting IndyGo.
Counties would each decide individually when to put this matter on the ballot, and would not be subject to a new tax until after the residents of that county voted to become part of the system. The plan contemplates that Marion and Hamilton County voters would consider the issue via referendum in November 2012, with other counties choosing to vote on the issue in later elections following the completion of their feasibility studies.