Indy Connect Shifts into High Gear

Indy Connect map Jan 2013
Indy Connect map Jan 2013

We received the following press release this morning from Indy Connect, complete with a new map. A couple notes before the jump. Notice the new color scheme of the rapid transit lines. Also, and most important, note how the weight of the lines reflects the expected (and comparative) frequency of routes to one another. This is something that in the transit world is known as frequent network mapping. Jarrett Walker, author of Human Transit, has perhaps the biggest collection of knowledge and explanation at his blog regarding this topic and is recommended reading. Without further ado, onto the press release!

Transit planning process embarks on public education campaign

Refined map includes rapid transit lines with color names


INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 10, 2013) — Indy Connect, the initiative for improving and expanding Central Indiana’s transit system, is kicking into high gear with a public education campaign that includes a Webinar, outreach meetings, TV and radio commercials, and a simplified map with color-coded transit lines.


The next phase of the planning process – required and funded by the Federal Transit Administration – will focus on three rapid transit lines. Decisions made in 2013 will determine the number and locations of station stops along those lines, the types of rail or bus rapid transit vehicles to be used, and whether the vehicles will run in new or existing lanes of city streets.


“By taking this next step, we’ll be teed up to pursue federal funding for implementation when we get a positive outcome from other groups’ legislative efforts,” said Anna Tyszkiewicz, director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.


The three rapid transit lines to be studied in more detail are:

·         The Red Line, which extends north and south through downtown Indianapolis from Carmel to Greenwood;

·         The Blue Line, which runs east and west on or near Washington Street from Cumberland to the Indianapolis International Airport;  and

·         The Green Line, which runs between downtown Indianapolis and Noblesville and was previously called the Northeast Corridor – this line is also known as the former Nickel Plate rail line.


“Most transit systems throughout the world use a color-coding system for rapid transit lines, and we think this simple plan will help people understand what the improvements could mean for their lives and how it could change the way they get to work, play, education, healthcare and more,” said Tyszkiewicz.


Indy Connect is a partnership of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA) and IndyGo.


The partnership developed commercials that begin airing Jan. 11 on all four TV networks and various cable and radio stations to educate the public about what an expanded and enhanced transit system could mean for the community. The commercials include more than a dozen Central Indiana residents answering the question, “Why do we need more transit options?” The residents – who were not paid for their time – said they want more transit so they can, among other things, get to work, the doctor and the store, as well as to create more jobs, save time and money, and keep our best and brightest right here in Indiana. The commercials can be viewed at


The public is invited to learn more about this year’s study of the Red, Blue and Green lines during a Webinar onJan. 22 at 7 p.m.  To register, visit The Webinar will be recorded and available on the website.


In addition to this initial Webinar, the public will have multiple opportunities to engage throughout the process.  Public meetings will begin in late February and be held in multiple locations throughout the region.  Details about those public meetings and additional opportunities to get engaged will soon be available at 


A fully implemented Indy Connect plan will connect more people to more places, easier than ever before. The plan includes more local buses on the streets, meaning reduced wait times and extended hours of service; as well as the addition of new rapid transit service throughout the region. It would complement IndyGo’s recently announced Downtown Transit Center, a federally funded project that would serve as a central hub downtown for destinations, boardings and transfers.


For more information on the Indy Connect plan, visit us at, or join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments 40

  • There is no longer a mention of light rail in the map. I know that studies are in the works regarding feasibility, but the lack of mention in the press release has me worried. What do you anticipate will be the process of having lightrail at least along the Nickel Plate corridor?

    • Look in the legend at the bottom. The rapid transit lines are defined as “BUS RAPID TRANSIT OR RAIL TRANSIT”

      • Yes, it is now commuter rail and BRT, with no light rail. The old map had BRT lines with a note on some that they were to eventually become light rail.

        • “Commuter Rail” usually equals “Light Rail.”

          The urban policy schools and centers are butchering these terms. Chicago’s CTA is light rail, but some call it heavy rail, even though it shares noting in common with heavy rail and doesn’t even run on heavy rail lines. So also with Atlanta’s MARTA, also light rail.

          Chicago’s Metra trains are a perfect example of a line being commuter rail and heavy rail.

  • Without rail Indy will lose out period. We transit rail, I wish residents understood the benefits to neighborhoods and to the entire city as a whole. A fool will overlook the potential.

    • Brandon, name one rail transit system where no subsidies are needed. Don’t worry, we already know, there are none. Rail transit is extremely expensive, and only NYC comes close to rider fees making what some may call a decent % of the overall revenue to run the system. It really just comes down to basic economic theory. The Keynesian types will say write $5,000,000,000.00 in bonds and build all sorts of rail lines. Then they will have no problem with the city defaulting on all those bonds, as the vast majority won’t be invested in them.

      I want a robust transit system. I wouldn’t mind riding, and paying, to ride a bus from the far east side to downtown. However, when a small portion of the plan consumes close to 50% of the cost, and only benefits a small % of the citizens, changes need to be made. Citizens in Franklin and Decatur townships don’t get much, if anything.

      We may as well just write about seven billion in bonds and just take on the taxation. Build the original system with rail lines to everywhere, and then in five years, pull a GM/Chrysler and stiff bond holders. Get a judge to rule that the taxation needed to pay for the system is just too oppressive and thus unconstitutional. The bond holders should have known that and it is a risk they took.

      • VR on the east side, name one highway where subsidies aren’t needed…

        • Roads are funded by federal and state fuel excise taxes, vehicle registration taxes, Marion county wheel taxes even tire purchase excise taxes. In return the streets and roads can be used without addtional charges.

          Bus service and now this latest scheme charges everyone for a select few, out of county, and if we chose to use the system that we are taxed for we are required to pay additional fees.

          Similar to the Colts stadium or paying taxes to the Pacers and of course IndyGo the current bus system.

          • Peter, I believe a decent portion of subsidies for roads also comes from the federal (and probably state) general funds since fuel taxes don’t cover the whole thing.

            Given that, people who don’t drive (mostly bikers and transit riders, incidentally) end up supporting roads that they don’t use.

      • This is not about revenue directly from ridership? This about Indianapolis remaining competitive. The city must draw the young professional. Without rail transit Indianapolis will be overlooked.

    • Nonsense. Cars are just fine. Many cities far bigger than Indy rely on cars and are economic powerhouses.

      What is it about public transportation that gets the left into such a fever?

  • Lafayette Road BRT is gone, as is the commuter rail to Zionsville that was in the long-range plan. Hopefully these are still envisioned, but just aren’t part of the immediate submission process that they refer to in their press release.

  • And nothing for people living down SR37. We would like options too.

    • [sarcasm on] You get I-69!

      • And if this passes in both Marion and Hamilton Co., Fishers there should be no more I-69 money, none. If Fishers wants a new 116th St. interchange, let them fund it themselves. I can’t believe they are wanting money for a new interchange when everyone is claiming how this rail line will drastically reduce vehicular traffic in that area. Why would be dump money into road construction in an area that could be seeing less traffic in about ten years time?

  • I’m not sure if this plan passes if they continue to go for any fixed rail system. I don’t understand the pro-mass transit people that seem to be shouting “fixed rail or nothing!” It appears to me that having a robust bus system just isn’t “fancy” enough, and too many people want something cooler to brag about. What is wrong with multiple buses running during prime rush hours in-lieu of a fixed, never moveable, transit line? Or, is the thought process more people control, using zoning to severely restrict new residential construction to just areas along the rail line? As the plan stands now, I would vote no on the referendum if given the chance in my county. Thankfully they backed off trying to tax us, as we pretty mcuh got nothing but sidewalks/bike paths. The taxation needs to be much more fair. People in Noblesville/Fishers and portions of Indy should pay more taxes for getting a fancy and costly rail system. I’ve read before that the rail line accounts for close to 50% of the cost of the entire proposal.

    People in Franklin Township are going to love this proposal. They get to pay more to get nothing! That’s what they get for building in Marion County. Should have jumped the county line to Shelby, Johnson, or Hancock and they would have avoided the coming tax (I predict it passes in Marion County, though a good % of the residents won’t be paying much, if any, in taxes). I would be surprised if there is enough votes to pass the tax hike in Hamilton County. The only people who will benefit the most are those in Fishers and Noblesville, with their fancy train. I can see some folks in Westfield and Carmel none to happy that they don’t get a fancy train.

    Does anyone know why some politician(s) want the locals to raise taxes on their own citizens instead of having a referendum? One was quoted as saying these locals are elected, and they should be the ones to run for re-election on raising taxes or not raising taxes. However, I think this would make it easier for specific municipalities to opt out of paying for the transit plan. For example, Cicero and Sheridan may have many people decide they don’t see any benefit, thus their locals may vote to not raise taxes.

    This will be interesting for sure.

  • The irony here is that the majority of the 1-2% food/beverage tax is paid by a majority of Marion County residents that never use the Hoosier Dome/Lucas. Every Colts ticket in Lucas for 20 years is subsidized by $50 of local residents increased taxes that they never had a chace to vote on in a referendum.

    A lot of residents pay federal taxes that go to automobile related transportation projects that they never use.

    • A lot of people pay a lot of taxes for a lot of things they never use. That is the rub of paying taxes – for the most part you get no direct say in where it goes or what it is used for. But as a society, we hope that the money gets spent on worthwhile things.

      I’ve been taking the bus more lately since we sold our car and are looking for a new one and think that increased investment in transit (and more permanent transit at that) is a very good thing.

  • By no means am I a very seasoned transit rider, but I have ridden some in my life. After using the links provided by this blog and the myriad of commenters, I am very “in the tank” for BRT. While rail has the whole “fancy/shiny toy” attractiveness, BRT is such a good idea for Indy. Unless the city and doughnut counties want to go to Pacific NW style growth barriers, the transit system has to be very flexible. Rail isn’t flexible.

    I would ride BRT from Cumberland (hopefully expanded to Greenfield) to my job downtown 90% of the time.

    • Actually, rail proponents frequently point out that the lack of flexibility of rail is a benefit when deciding on economic development tools such as transit-oriented-development.

      That being said, I’ve cooled a bit on rail for Indy myself. Treating buses as if they were rail (dedicated lanes, attractive stations, etc) would save us quite of money, and we still might be able to attract the neighborhood development we are striving for.

    • As Kevin pointed out, if a bus line could be gone tomorrow at the whim of some politician slashing budgets, where is the impetus for the private sector making big investments nearby? People buy houses and start businesses near rail because it will be there for a LONG time. Bus routes, not so much.

      BRT is a nice hybrid that could fill the gap in the meantime and hold the right-of-way for an eventual rail line.

  • For those of you that do not know, on the Indy Connect website, it states that there is still a possibiilty that the red( Carmel to Greenwood) and Blue(Wash. St.) could be light rail from the start. Additionally, this is not the long range map, this is In this long range plan, commuter rail to Zionsville is still an idea. The best thing for Indianapolis would be to have light rail on the Red and Blue lines to start, just to get people to see what transit is like. Many Hoosiers have never been on the New York subway or the Chicago L system. Being originally from LA, where they currently have a massive transit system being built, heavy rail and light rail systems have shown to have much larger ridership and much larger development along the lines as compared to BRT. Maybe, IndyConnect can change their budget to make the Blue and Red Lines Light Rail, the Green Line Commuter rail, and the orange light BRT, just to experiment on which will end up being the best investment. This will be light rail, and after its success in Indy, they will most likely continue to expand it. I’m thinking next they would probably build a line in the median of I-465 to connect many lines and possible change the BRT into light rail. The city needs to stop creating these massive new highway overpasses and widening projects and needs to give that money to IndyConnect.

    • I have argued from the start that “the iron cross” (light rail east-west and north-south) should be the backbone of the CIRTA system, as it would allow a web of outlying N-S and E-W crosstown bus connections on the mile grid to serve outlying employment and residential nodes better.

      It would also serve and reinforce core areas originally built around transit…which are the high ridership lines (#3 &8 east-west; #18,27,38,39 north-south).

  • The Indy Connect public meeting with the largest attendance was at Indpls Opera where Midtown neighbors made the case for a Midtown Circulator: IMA-Butler-56th & Ill-BRV-Glendale (with extension to 62nd & Allisonville Rail station looping down to 38th St and/or north to catch neighborhoods.) Don’t see it on the map : (

  • I’m all for the “Iron Cross” to develop our community in a positive way. It just makes sense to set the stage for natural development in Indy for the future (rather than wasting money on new I-69 and widening roads for Noblesville & Fi-Town).
    It’s 2013…last time I checked.


    Map for my Dream of Indianapolis Light Rail Transit

  • Sorry Last Link Was Bad, This is my dream of Rail Transit in Indianapolis

    • If we are going to dream, can the dream at least make it to Old Town Greenwood? 🙂

      • I’ve calculated the price, and this plan really isnt much more than what IndyConnect is spending, if they cancel some of those REALLY underused buses and start with this and buses on the main road, it would be great for the city and development of the city

  • Here is my final Transit Map, this is reachable with phase one money just to let you guys know….

    • It is highly misinformed. I particularly like this point, “Latest census data underscore the no-win economics of mass transit here: 92 percent of Indianapolis workers drive to work, most alone but some in carpools. Three percent work at home. Two percent walk to work. Two percent use IndyGo, our highly subsidized albeit essential transit service.”

      That is as bad as saying that there is no need to add bike lanes or trails because nobody rides on the streets… there is probably a good reason that requires fixing.

      • Indeed Curt, your criticism is correct. However, we do need to be mindful of the fact that the ease of drive commuting, low-density of development, and lack of walkability will negatively impact our ability to attract “choice” commuters for quite some time. Given those factors, I’m not sure that spending anywhere near a $1 billion on one fixed corridor makes a lot of sense, especially given the current woeful state of bus frequency on most all of the existing lines. It is a bit of a chicken and egg argument about whether we should get the density first and then add the expensive fixed transit infrastructure, or whether we can reasonably expect the dense redevelopment to occur after spending on the transit infrastructure. I’d like to see us change our zoning and street design standards along/adjacent to identified rapid transit corridors now, so that we can start to see the appropriate built environment changes needed to actually support a sustainable rapid transit corridor.

      • There is no need to add bike lanes or inaccurately named “trails” atop city streets. Why they stuck some bike lanes in car turn lanes will never make any sense. Those foolish markers are going to get some bicyclists killed.

  • why doesnt indy connect consider monorail, it will appeal to voters because of its ‘exoticness’ and can be built fast without disturbing traffic, also it goes faster than light rail and has EXTREMELY low amount of accidents, as opposed to light rail which cars crash into practically monthly. over 10 years thats 120 deaths. I think monorail is the way to go. Ray Bradbury proposed a monorail system for LA, but instead they opted for a subway and light rail combo, and it has MANY crashes. If Indy built a large monorail system, it would be unique, and give the city an identity, somewhat like the New York Subway, Chicago L, or hate to say it, but the LA freeways. Monorail is the way to go.

    • For several years I have suggested the IU-PUI to Methodist pseudo monorail be easily and cheaply expanded to IVTC, with the potential of going farther north along the “health corridor”. and a possible westward line from Riley area to west Indy. Prefab construction of tracks and pillars avoid weather delays, utilize the current rolling stock , parts, mechanics, security, for quick development and almost NO extra cost. It would link IVTC into the university system (already happening) be FAST, and give people a working example system that also would improve property values in that area. If it is popular, it will generate support – otherwise just help the universities.

  • According to the Indiana Railway 2012 map, there are 10 railroads that branch out from Union Station to the adjacent counties mentioned in the mass transit plan. Of those 10, 6 are csx operated lines. Are there any studies currently assessing the feasibility of contracting these lines out with csx and getting commuter rails in place sooner than 2035? With 6 csx lines, and 4 lines owned by the state of Indiana, why not start off by developing a commuter rail system and building the current bus system up as suggested? With increased bus service, BRT, and having multiple stops along those lines mentioned within Marion county, we could possibly forgo the idea of light rail for right now and put it in the distant future if the population were to outgrow the aforementioned concepts.

  • I just happened to google “mass transit in Indianapolis”, and located this under images:

    Now this would be my dream, unfortunately I doubt anything this elaborate would ever happen. But whoever came up with it definitely has a love for the city.

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