Decision Maker Response

Christine Scales’s response

Christine Scales
Indianapolis Councilwoman

Apr 15, 2016 — Not too many years ago, CIRTA, IndyGo, MPO, MIBOR, Indy Chamber and other groups published volumes of research results showing the GreenLine as the first priority needing to be constructed in a mass transit plan. After years of residents and some government officials insisting the use of that route for a light rail line was too expensive to build. When the State Legislature said the same and refused to give funds for light rail, light rail was ditched and BRT was pitched for the Green Line and other express routes. The plans at the time showed Meridian and Keystone to be favored north-south express bus routes. An express bus route on College started at the E.62nd Street point. The Purple and Blue lines were not to be considered for major express service or BRT until after the Green Line's completion.
BRT in those days was defined as a curbside service using more modern buses, with more frequent stops, and traffic signal controls to reduce travel time. BRT stations were to include upgraded lighting, seating, and digital announcements as to the next bus's arrival. NEVER was destruction of city streets and the building of dedicated BRT center lanes and stations mentioned in the 20 page publications produced by IndyConnect and other transit supporting groups.
I could actually support a curbside BRT system that started where demographics show ridership need truly begins-around 46th Street at either College, Meridian or Keystone. The two latter, wider streets wouldn't promise College Ave.'s level of traffic congestion problems. With curbside service, pedestrian safety would not be problematic.
Most importantly, I believe the purple and blue lines should be given the same priority in terms of construction initiation time. The need for service due to income levels, unemployment, proven transit dependency of those living along the blue and purple lines has long been established. Because these residents don't have the power and influence that wealthier residents living along the northern Redline Route or the Green LIne have, they have consistently played the role of stepchild-never the first priority for dramatically enhanced bus service. If there's money left over after the northern Midtown and 46220 zip code folks get what they demand, perhaps the purple and blue lines will become BRT. Even if funds become available, it will take years to build them. Most important is that those living on the northern end of College can ditch their cars and save money not having to rent a zip car or BlueIndy car to get to where they want to go.
TOD is only exciting when generationally held businesses along College lose their investments so a deep pocketed developer can cheaply buy up their highly valuable property and build something really "cool" . Not cool-stimulating positive business growth to replace blighted properties and bring desperately needed jobs to neighborhoods along the purple and blue lines. And let's not ignore the fact that the reason narrow streets like College need to be forever destroyed with permanent BRT infrastructure is so that bus routes can't be significantly altered if the ridership fails to appear. The College Ave TOD developers must have a guaranteed ROI, which they won't have if the routes remain easily alterable.
As I have seen up close and too often, those in this city who have much, are given more, so their lives can be that much more enjoyable. Those who truly need a route out of poverty through dependable public transportation, will be kept waiting in a very long bus line before their ticket to better jobs and education comes their way.