Have more questions? 

How does this final plan differ from previous versions?

The system design is similar to the revised plan presented in the fall of 2010 after the Indy Connect public outreach campaign, but with three main changes:

  1. a new BRT corridor (north/south) from Greenwood through Indianapolis to Carmel;
  2. more frequent service in the five BRT rapid transit corridors; and
  3. additional local bus service in parts of Marion and Hamilton Counties.

This proposed system design reflects changed economic assumptions, including lower projected growth rates and federal funding uncertainty, along with more refined cost estimates resulting from the ongoing engineering and feasibility studies. As a result, the build out over the initial ten years of the plan is less costly than originally estimated.

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Is the proposed map the final system plan or will there be route changes?

The exact routes within the rapid transit corridors might change in some places, but the location of the corridors themselves is fairly well established. The local bus routes could be changed over time to ensure that the most effective passenger service is being provided to accommodate passenger demand, traffic patterns, and population shifts. Ultimately, the new Transit Authority established as part of the plan will decide exactly where specific routes will go.

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How will this proposed transportation plan be paid for?

A combination of federal, state and local dollars, as well as transit fares, will likely be used to build and operate the transit system. It will be up to the Indiana General Assembly to determine what kind of local funding will be used, but a group of local elected officials, civic and business leaders proposed that counties have the option of implementing a 0.3 percent (3/10ths of a percent) increase in their local option income tax via a voter referendum to help fund the local share.

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How will the new tax impact the average resident of Marion or Hamilton County?

The proposed tax of 0.3 percent (3/10ths of a percent) would only apply to "taxable income" such as wages and income, just like the current local income tax does. The tax would not affect most seniors or those out of work since Social Security benefits and unemployment benefits are generally excluded from state and local taxes.

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Will people who live outside Marion and Hamilton Counties have to pay taxes for the first phase of the transit system?

No. Before any new tax is imposed, each county's residents must first vote to become part of the new Transit Authority and expand the mass transit system in their county. The decision to put the question on the ballot in the first place is also made at the local level — not by anyone outside of the county.

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Why does the plan only start in Marion and Hamilton Counties? When will other counties be allowed to participate?

The first phase starts in Marion and Hamilton Counties because extensive feasibility and design studies have already been completed in those communities, including the federal alternatives analysis of the Northeast Corridor rail line and IndyGo’s recent Comprehensive Operational Analysis on its system.

While that build out is happening, the plan also calls for system design and feasibility studies to start in neighboring counties, particularly Johnson and Hendricks Counties, to evaluate the level and kind of service that those communities desire.

When other counties are ready to connect to the system, their residents can vote to opt in when it makes sense for them. That decision will be made by the local elected officials and residents of those counties on a timetable that works for their communities.

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Why isn't there a light rail line from downtown Indianapolis to the airport in the first phase?

The plan contains two rapid transit routes from downtown to the airport terminal:

  1. nonstop express bus service from the terminal to downtown using the I-70 corridor; and
  2. BRT service from the airport terminal to downtown via Washington Street.

The Federal Transit Administration awarded Indianapolis a $2 million grant to study, among other things, the feasibility of adding a light rail line to these routes. Preliminary estimates suggest that such a rail line could cost nearly $1 billion, given the configuration of the airport runways and the need to go around them or under them. When complete, the study will also determine the full extent of the demand for such service and whether the current level of potential ridership would make the investment cost-effective. If a rail line to the airport becomes feasible from a financial and demand perspective, the new Transit Authority will be able to incorporate that rail service into the system design.

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How does this compare to what other cities have done or are doing in terms of mass transit?

Many of our closest peer cities such as Columbus, Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Charlotte have much larger bus systems and many have already instituted rail-based transit or are in the process of doing so.

Despite Indianapolis being the 12th largest city in the country, our bus system ranks only 89th. We have a lot of catching up to do.

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What is the difference between bus, express bus and bus rapid transit?

As proposed, the improved bus system includes much more cross-town service with fewer transfers, increased operating hours, average wait times between buses reduced to 10-20 minutes and seven-day-a-week service.

Express bus service will provide more direct service, both to destinations within downtown Indianapolis and to surrounding counties. This is "non-stop" or "limited stop" service meant for point-to-point travel, primarily targeted at commuters.

Bus Rapid Transit operates more like light rail and has been added to highly traveled areas. BRT runs every 7.5 to 15 minutes and controls traffic signals to reduce travel times. It also has frequent stops, like light rail service.

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What will happen to IndyGo under this plan?

IndyGo will become part of the new Transit Authority as bus service expands in Marion County and is offered in Hamilton County and other neighboring communities. Many regional transit systems have separate divisions for bus and rail services, and IndyGo's drivers, staff and equipment will become part of the Transit Authority's bus division.

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How much will it cost to ride the rail and bus system?

It is too early in the planning process for us to provide a specific cost to ride transit. We do expect it to be in line with the cost of other cities, which is currently between $3 and $4 per day. We also anticipate a modern ticketing process so passengers can purchase one ticket for trips on bus or rail.

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What is the difference between Indy Connect and Indy Connect Now? What other transit organizations are working to improve mass transit?

Indy Connect NOW is the coalition of elected officials, community leaders, businesses, civic organizations, neighborhood associations, disability advocates, schools and citizens who support a robust mass transit system in central Indiana. A privately funded group, it is focused on urging the Indiana General Assembly to authorize a public referendum that allows voters the choice of how best to fund mass transit in their community.

Indy Connect is the initiative for improving and expanding Central Indiana’s transit system including bus, bus rapid transit, and rail. Indy Connect is a partnership of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, CIRTA and IndyGo. Publicly funded, its work is focused on transportation planning and public education on the values and benefits of an expanded transit network in Central Indiana.

To learn more about Indy Connect Now, Indy Connect, and other organizations working on mass transit, please view the list here.

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How do I show my support for this plan?

We’re glad you asked! We need your help to put Indy Connect on the ballot in 2014 so voters can weigh in and the plan can move forward. Learn how to contact your state senator or state representative and make your voice heard.

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Why Indy Connect Now

Congestion: As our region’s population continues to grow we will need more transportation options to ease traffic congestion and make our roadways and neighborhoods safer. A strong public transit system will provide a vital connection between Indianapolis and its suburbs.