"Bus rapid transit is a lot cheaper," Myers said. "It also provides a good service."
Michael Terry, president and CEO of IndyGo, says the only difference between the transportation modes is that bus rapid transit is on rubber tires. Otherwise it can have dedicated lanes, signal prioritization, and have more spacious vehicles like subway cars. Light rail is only seen as potentially feasible for the proposed Green Line, which would connect Noblesville to downtown. The other corridor in phase one is the Red Line, connecting Carmel to Greenwood. A Purple Line that would travel east to west along 38th Street has been proposed for a later phase.
Indy Connect, developed by IndyGo along with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization and Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority, was adopted in December 2010. Since then the consortium has conducted more than 250 public meetings and received more than 10,000 comments.
"This has been a very robust process since 2010," Terry said. "We feel like we're working hard, but we have to constantly ensure the community understands the plan and continue to receive feedback."
Phase one of Indy Connect is projected to cost $1.3 billion to build, followed by annual operation costs of $150 million in 10 years. Planners hope to leverage as many federal dollars as possible, as well as use private equity. House Bill 1011, which is currently being considered by the Indiana Senate, seeks a public referendum to vote on a 3/10 of 1 percent Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) increase to help fund the expanded mass transit.
As it stands Indianapolis is the 23rd largest metro area in the nation, but its bus fleet ranks 84th. Of all IndyGo riders, 70 percent have no other transportation options. Only 61 percent of jobs in Marion County can be accessed by transit, which doesn't rank high nationally.
"These aren't good numbers," Terry said. "They're things we need to improve, and that's part of our planning."
Public comments will continue to be accepted on Indy Connect until August, when preferred route alignments, vehicles, and service are expected to be determined.
For more information, visit the website at IndyConnect.org or call 327-8601.