Can Buses save us?

David Hoppe of Nuvo has written an interesting article about the rapid expansion of bus service in Bogota, Columbia, and how it related to a relief of congestion and pollution. I have had a bit of a change of heart recently with regards to buses, and his piece highlights one of the main reasons for my transformation: namely, cost. I love rail, but starting costs are steep and getting steeper by the day (of course if rail was subsidized at the same level as roads, this may not be a problem, but I digress). Hoppe is right on the money when he mentions the “cool factor.” Buses in Indianapolis are seen as a last resort for the people unfortunate enough to be car-less. Perhaps with a rise in gas prices this perception will change, but we have to give people the option by improving our bus network. A glimmer of hope has been seen recently on that front, with the addition of an express bus service from Fishers. I hope that it is a smashing success and that the service will be expanded to other suburbs.

With every simple solution, however, there are downfalls. The most energy efficient buses run on electricity, which are also the most expensive. Traffic back-ups on the road effect buses the same as the cars. Widened, pedestrian-unfriendly suburban roads and buses do not mix very well. These factors mean that we can not simply settle for a better bus system. But it would be a good start.

Comments 3

  • I’m really in the same boat as you. I even wrote an opinion piece for the Indy Star 5 or 6 years ago talking about the strengths of rail. But more and more, I think an improved bus system will provide a better initial impact. Though I still firmly believe in a regional rail system that connects Indy with other Indiana communities.

  • Yes, regional high-speed rail should be a no-brainer. Imagine getting to Chicago in under 2 hours. Wow.

  • I’ve long been an advocate for bus transit in Indy, which makes infinitely more sense than rail. Alas, buses lack glamour and aren’t de rigeur trappings of a “big league city”. Nor do they let cities recycle huge amounts of tax dollars into the pockets of consultants and contractors. Thus I see little propsect of real bus service improvements in Indy, while light rail will continued to be the favored option

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