Mass transit potential

April 27, 2009
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For an interesting take on how mass transit could help revitalize Indianapolis, see IBJ reporter Chris Oâ??Malleyâ??s story this week on the topic. Ball State grad students dreamed up several concepts for plunking new rail stations along existing track to not only move people around the city, but also to spark revitalizations of tired neighborhoods.

Some of the ideas are a bit fanciful. But credit the students for having a pulse.

Mass transit skeptics have long warned that the city is too spread out and too thinly populated to make mass transit cost effective. But the studentsâ?? ideas are designed to increase population density â?? and raise property values.

What do you like about the studentsâ?? ideas? What would work and wouldnâ??t work?
  • I really like it. The critics who complain and make such biased judgments are idiots. They just don't want change, they want to keep everything the same just the way they are. Ah, conservatives... boring people.
  • Please review the history of the Portland, OR light rail system developed by TriMet. They put stations where there were very few people, and strong communities grew up around the stations almost immediately.

    People are hungry for good public transit and will relocate to be adjacent to it. Maybe then we will stem the drain of business development out to the suburbs.
  • There is an entrenched bias against density in Indianapolis. IF there were real unmet demand for living in a walkable neighborhood close to downtown with public transportation easily available, the near east side would not need so much intervention.
  • Best way to get mass transit in Indy is to stop widening interstates and take the billions being plunged into them and spend it on mass transit. That does two things. It gets it built, and it increase congestion on the highway which builds demand for mass transit. The argument that mass transit does not pay for itself, a common argument against, somehow implies that interstates and airports do. All three have a purpose and none of them pay for themselves.

    Two lines should be built right now. The Fishers line and a line out to the airport with a connection between the two. Additional ones should be built as demand requires.

    I like that the BSU kids are thinking ahead, but most of their ideas were fairly impractical. That said, the use of mass transit as a development tool is very true and very possible. And the locations they had their stations positioned are about where they should be. areas where plenty of room for development exists.
  • I don't see that these ideas are far-fetched. Sure there are some elements that probably won't get built like the suspended monorails or the giant Superbowl monument that looks a lot like the Soldiers and Sailors Monument (especially now since the Colts won't kick in any more money) but this is no reason that they are impractical ideas. They follow pretty conservative ideas with current green planning. The buildings look to be LEED certifiable and their characteristics mimic the suburban development in Northern Virginia around the District.

    I don't necessarily think that Portland is the way to model Indianapolis development. They have a much stricter land-use code and they have development boundaries. Despite my love of Portland, I don't think that Indiana is ready for that much governmental power. Instead, the region could create regional zones. You would be able to develop anywhere, however within the zones nearer to the current development assistance would be provided by the city/county/region to build infrastructure (i.e., highways, sewer systems, mass transit, etc.) and make it so the PUDs are more interconnected and denser than currently. Then as you go further out, a developer could still build units but would have to pay for all the improvements themselves and would therefor make less of a profit and make it less desirable to build in zones further out.

    Finally, I don't think that there is an entrenched bias against higher density living in Indianapolis. I just don't think that the region has had the right projects to spur this style of demand. There are several projects within Indy that are higher density. The Near Eastside is a different can of worms. Neighborhoods like the Old Northside, Lockerbie Square, and downtown Carmel, show that Indy is ready for high density development.
  • In addition to the elements you quoted as not being practicle, growing crops in apartments is probably not going to happen, nor would it probably bring enough money to the owners to make it worth while. In land strapped Japan or Manhattan maybe, but not here. There is a big difference between a backyard garden and having to maintain one 3 or 4 stories up.

    Another element is the series of lakes for pollution control. To acquire the land on the east bank of Fall Creek would be expensive and require heavy government involvement (money) to make it happen. And unless I missed something, why would the northern of the 5 lakes be the one for fishing and recreation when it would seem to be the most polluted. Since Fall Creek runs south, the southern one would seem to be the cleanest. It is a neat idea, along the lines of the Pogues Run flood protection project.

    I admire the kids for having a great imagination, but this is typical of pie in the sky dreams of college projects. Like the DisneyWorld Main Streets that many of these kids design over and over in class, but have little chance of seeing the light of day. If they truly wanted to do a project to convince people light rail is the way to go, they should have used some more reasonable projects that would get people interested.
  • The Old Northside and Lockerbie Square historic areas are no more dense than the near east side, and they are much smaller. Their biggest attraction: closer to downtown, Clarian, and IUPUI. Both were lost causes 30-40 years ago. The grandiose plans of that day (no doubt done by BSU grads of that era) envisioned a string of Riley Towers stretching northeast to the North Split. Only the first couple of towers ever got built. The later ones were the Lugar and Barton towers...low-rent subsidized housing.

    Every time someone proposes a more-dense alternative for Broad Ripple right along the Monon, the anti-density crowd comes out in force. Likewise with the northeastern neighborhoods downtown. I think the evidence clearly shows an anti-density bias.
  • How many of you ride the bus? The buses in Indianapolis are all but empty most of the time, and they already go to many of the places marked for transit stations. Also, it doesn't seem like people are flooding into Fall Creek Place, Herron Morton, Fountain Square, Mapleton Fall Creek, or any other of the close-in neighborhoods that have good mass transit service in place.
  • Why don't more people ride the busses? Since they cater more to lower income, that makes them unappealing to middle and upper class. It's really too bad, but folks have become much too dependent upon the flexibility of coming and going when they want in their own cars. That being coupled with the preference of not wanting to ride on public transportation with the poor, that pretty much tells the story.

    I know that Indygo has run further routes lately and did run further North when gas prices were higher, but I haven't heard much about the success or lack thereof. If ridership were greater and seats were in demand, prices for public transportation would go up. It doesn't seem like that will happen anytime soon. or at least until the Obama adminstration is successful in adding massive energy taxes as they have planned to do.
  • I will tell you why I don't ride the bus, because they stop every freaking 2-3 blocks! I tried it when gas prices were high and its just not worth sitting on a city bus for 1 1/2 hours when it takes me 30 minutes to drive. All that constant starting and stopping. People have become so dang lazy that they won't walk more than a couple of blocks to catch a bus.

    Maybe if they had some express buses that only stopped every 15 blocks or so more people would ride them.
  • Those are fine reasons not to ride the bus, but any street car system that travels through the middle of Indianapolis isn't going to be much different. Also, keep in mind that the San Francisco Muni system (for example) runs at around $150 million in the red every year. That's what, 20% of Indianapolis' yearly budget? Anybody know how much Portland's system costs them a year?
  • I'd ride the bus if it actually went where I go every day. There is a bus stop near my house and a bus stop right at my office, but I cannot go directly from home to office because they are on different lines with a huge gap between. I'd have to walk about 2 miles to bridge the gap, and then pay a 2nd fare because it's not a continuous transfer. Or ride downtown, switch to the other line and ride back out, wasting a lot of time. This is the problem with a bus system that exists to get people from the outer reaches to downtown, and from one side of downtown to another, instead of from one outer area to another outer area.
  • I rode the bus a lot last summer and fall, and I didn't have a problem with the time it took to get from Beech Grove to downtown. And I love not having to drive. However, in order to get the bus I have to leave my car parked at KMart all day (security risk), and then I have to walk 3 blocks in a not-so-good neighborhood to get to my office. I chance the walk when the sun is out, but I'm not risking my life walking in the dark alone. I get to work early, so it'll be next month before the sun rises early enough for me to take the bus.

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