According to the IndyGo Comprehensive Operational Analysis that was covered in depth by Kevin, a downtown transit center should be used to try and organize all of the routes that converge on downtown Indianapolis. Per the report, a robust savings in operational cost could be gained while preserving on street trafficÂ versus the current location’s most congested point along Ohio Street;Â at the same time increasing the amount of time buses can wait on layover waiting on connecting routes to arrive.
However, the report debunked theÂ conclusions that past downtown transit studies have recommended.Â The logical site that comes to mind when most people consider this question, is locating a bus transfer center adjacent to Union Station; along South Street. Indeed, for trains that would be coming into downtown per the Indyconnect vision, providing people with a bus to get to their place of employment would be a large need.
However as the report indicates, this adds cost to operate the bus routes and creates additional congestion along the streets needed to get northside bus routes to the southside of downtown.Â The reportÂ also challenged the notion of whether this was the most efficient means of getting people from trains to their job; they recommend circulators yet to be drawn on a map.Â Conceivably, a marginally lower amount of people will be using trains versus buses. Even if the long term rail plans were brought to bare immediately, theÂ majority of trips taken by transitÂ are likely to be by bus. Why locate a transit center to serve the smaller demographic? Although it has moreÂ sex appeal to locate a transit centerÂ based upon aÂ train terminal location,Â the report provides a logical counterpoint toÂ prior suggested solutions.Â In the end the reportÂ concluded that a more centrally located transfer center could serve commuters more efficiently; although it did not spell out a specific parcel for where it should be.
Indeed, according to the US Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics website, the concentration of employees downtown is nowhere near Union Station or the post office. Based upon an analysis of jobs in 2009, one can see the distribution of jobs in the downtown areaÂ (see image above). I have highlighted where the post office lies with a red circle and the current IndyGo downtown “corral” in red. A cursory glance indicates that the majority of CBD jobs are government in nature with the other majority being arguablyÂ financial in nature and all geographically skewed north of Monument Circle.
The report does acknowledge that the post office site is easier from a real estate allocation point of view but also suggests that a future transit center could be developedÂ along sideÂ some sort of commercial development so as to not cannibalize land that could otherwise turn a good commercial profit and by extension, deliver a return on investment to taxpayers. Perhaps some sort of future public-private partnership could be struck to develop a site. There is still $30 million earmarked for an Indianapolis downtown transit center but time will eventually run out on that promise of federal money if it is not used.
So I ask our readers: Where SHOULD a downtown transit center be located to efficiently meet the needs of jobs and still be done so as not to add un-needed operating cost for IndyGo and also not create additional traffic congestion? I included a picture at the top of this post of what Charlotte, NC’s downtown transit center looks like. It is located directly next to their light rail station but serves only city buses at this point in time. It provides a look at what a similar structure in Indianapolis could look like.