A Success Story in Indianapolis

In February 2017, staff at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization compared Hampton Roads Transit to 25 peer agencies from regions across the U.S.

This month, Connect Hampton Roads checks in with leaders from one of those regions, Central Indiana.

Meet Mark Fisher, Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Development for the Indy Chamber and Sean Northup, Assistant Executive Director at the Indianapolis MPO.

CHR: “Mark and Sean, thanks for sharing time with us. Some great things are happening in Central Indiana. Sean, tell us about Indy Connect. What’s it all about?”

Sean: “Indy Connect is the coalition of community, business, and public sector leaders who have looked at regional competitiveness and economic growth prospects and arrived at the conclusion that Central Indiana’s lack of reliable, affordable transit access is holding us back. We’ve adopted a plan to increase transit service by 70% with shorter waits, longer evening and weekend hours, and three new bus rapid transit lines on our busiest corridors. Last November, voters approved a new income tax to fund these improvements, which will phase in over the next seven years or so.”

CHR: “Why is the Indy Connect plan important?”

Mark: “Well, for one thing, it puts high-frequency routes within a five-minute walk of three times as many people and twice as many jobs, and also puts more options for education, retail and healthcare within reach. I’d add it’s also a growth issue. Employers and younger workers are attracted to more walkable areas served by transit, and rapid transit also attracts people and investment. The bus rapid transit lines in the Indy Connect plan will jump-start redevelopment and rebuild the tax base in many communities and neighborhoods.”

CHR: “What recommendations do you have for regions like Hampton Roads, where stakeholders are grappling with deciding what transit improvements are needed and how to pay for them?”

Mark: “It’s important to get community stakeholders involved. That includes the business community. The Indy Chamber has been a long-time advocate of local and regional mass transit, recognizing public transportation as an issue of growing importance when it comes to recruiting new business to the metropolitan area.”

Sean: “Dedicate time, energy and resources to gathering public input. As we were developing the Indy Connect plan and introducing it to the community, we held hundreds of public meetings and reviewed more than 10,000 public comments. And, finally, offer residents a plan that is concrete enough that they can truly understand how they would benefit, but one that is still flexible enough to accommodate their input. For us, allowing voters to truly envision and shape the plan was a real key to success.

CHR: “Thanks again to both of you. We wish you great success.”