IndyConnect discusses routes to benefit Butler students

Indy Connect hosted a public information session on March 18 regarding plans for mass transit in central Indiana.

This meeting highlighted the Red Line that will either include a bus or light-rail route running north from Greenwood through downtown Indianapolis and ending in Carmel.

This line is the closest route to Butler University and would allow students to access said locations without a car.

Ehren Bingaman, Indiana transit advocate, spoke at the meeting and said the Indy Connect team has conducted about 250 meetings and collected more than 10,000 comments regarding mass transit in central Indiana.

He also said the most recent transit plan was adopted in December 2010.

“I want to make sure we understand this is a work in progress,” Bingaman said. “It is obviously not in place yet.”

Bingaman also said in his presentation that the plan would take place over 10 years and cost about $1.3 billion, which would be funded by a 0.3 percent tax increase.

The cost would cover $950 million in construction and $350 million in new vehicles.

The new vehicles would be either hybrid buses or light rail, and they would be equipped with Wi-Fi, bike racks and benches.

This session was held to poll the public on two alternative Red Line routes, one running north from downtown on College Avenue, and the other taking College to 62nd Street before continuing north on Keystone Avenue.

Butler prefers the latter route because it is the closest route to campus for student use.

For this reason, the Student Government Association funded a bus to take up to 50 students to the event to support the line that would run closest to Butler.

SGA also offered the incentive of $5 Starbucks gift cards to anyone who attended.

Only two people went to the meeting with the SGA bus—an SGA representative and executive director of facilities, Rich Michal.

With Butler having low representative numbers, the audience with a 60 to 40 percent vote favored the north route that runs further from Butler.

“We were hoping for more students to come,” Michal said. “Hopefully next time.”

Freshman Zach Gorge said he grew up right outside Broad Ripple, so he has seen the need for mass transit. However, he said he wouldn’t use the system often since he owns a car.

“There has always been a need from Fishers to downtown Indianapolis, but the cost of the infrastructure would be a lot on taxes,” Gorge said. “I will be fine with my car.”

Freshman Stephanie Hanagan said without a car, she would use mass transit to reach Indianapolis.

“I would use (mass transit) to access downtown more than I would go north,” Hanagan said. “The city is hard to get to without a car.”

The Indy Connect team will use the poll results from the session to make plans moving forward.

Another meeting was hosted last night at Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis, focusing on the opinions of college students.

With these meetings and research, the team looks to evaluate three main aspects of the transit system: routes, vehicles and the stations.

No move will be made until the Indiana Senate votes whether to approve the legislation for the transit.

If the legislation passes, individual counties will have the opportunity to vote. Marion and Hamilton counties plan on voting in early 2014.

The Indy Connect team will review the data it has collected and have a new plan out by next fall.

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