Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Westside

November 8, 2012

Connecting Central Indiana

Ehren Bingaman seeks better living through mass transit

(Continued)

That was five years ago this August. On his first day, Bingaman was CIRTA's only full-time employee. Now there are eight. Since then they've also established three mass transit routes, a 10-county ride-share program, and introduced Indy Connect, a regional transportation initiative between CIRTA, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, and IndyGo.

"Maybe (the policy discussion) isn't as far along as we'd like it to be, but even the fact the skeptics keep having to answer the questions, that's a demonstration of progress," Bingaman said. "I feel good about what we've done in the last five years."

There's much work remaining, however. So far CIRTA's main role has been as a public education and policy-shaping entity. The introduction of Indy Connect is the agency's tangible next step.

The process started with more than 150 public meetings throughout CIRTA's 10 participating counties, including Hendricks. They focused on transportation infrastructure and how residents commute. Those forums yielded more than 10,000 public comments.

Bingaman says they aren't trying to get us back to 1934 (funny as that sounds), but he believes there are improvements that can, and should, be made to our transit framework.

"Getting from Danville to Raceway Road is a lot different now than it was 20 years ago," he said. "It's not just about downtown anymore. We've got cross-county boundaries now."

Indy Connect is a plan that has been scrutinized not just by the region's transportation planners but by elected officials and private sector leaders like the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.

"Really, what it boils down to is having more of everything," Bingaman said of the initiative.

That includes more vehicles, more service, frequency of routes, more stops, more hours of operation. Currently IndyGo runs 130 buses a day. That's nine million trips annually. That may seem like a lot, but Bingaman says it isn't.

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