So the big new mass transit plan has come out, and its main solution is … buses on roads. Government-owned buses, of course. Meanwhile, downtown Indy has been aggressively removing one traffic lane after another. It’s a systematic denuding of our once-functional urban traffic grid.
What’s being put into these former vehicular lanes? Decorations. “Traffic-calming” bumpouts. Bicycle lanes that don’t get used by bicycles. A tourism/retirement-community style “trail.” In one historic downtown neighborhood, they’ve even installed a cul de sac.
Has anyone noticed that we aren’t using the transit options we already own? Namely, a fine network of streets and highways, along with a world-class fleet of private vehicles that run mostly empty.
Stand on a corner and watch the cars go by. Most of them have a driver and no passengers. At least three empty seats per typical vehicle. With GPS-enabled smart phones becoming the norm, it is inevitable that entrepreneurs will begin connecting all of these empty seats with passengers.
The best thing we could do for transporting humans efficiently in Indianapolis would be to build lots of dropoff/pickup points for use by all cars, vans and buses. Next, deregulate taxi cabs, shut down the dozens of government bus fleets (yes, I mean school buses) and watch technology and the market go to work. Prime the pump with transportation vouchers for the poor and for students. Let a thousand transportation providers bloom.
We absolutely do not need to spend billions on rail. We are not even close to fully using assets we already own.