Monday, December 28, 2009

Transit and the future of Indianapolis

The availability of transit options will emerge as the single most important issue for Indianapolis in the years to come.

From the subways of Seoul, South Korea to the bus system in Portland, Oregon, every relevant city in the world features a network of transit options. Healthy transit systems are the lifeblood of a metropolis. Which begs the question: how healthy is transit in Indianapolis? We may take pride in abundance of cultural districts, both emergent and established, but how are these places connected? If we choose to continue to neglect how people move around in our city, can we continue to claim the title of "Crossroads of America" in good faith?

Indianapolis has a history of transit innovation that is worth celebrating. Union Station, one of the first centralized train stations in the world, saw over 200 passenger trains a day by the year 1900. In the early 20th century, one could ride from burgeoning Downtown Indy to sleepy Broad Ripple using one of the most advanced streetcar systems in the world. By 1950, Indianapolis sported a fully-functional bus system.

And yet, the current state of transit in Indianapolis betrays our roots. Indianapolis is now the 12th largest city in America, but ranks 99th in terms of regional transit funding. IndyGo, the primary transit provider to the metro area, lacks the resources to be a viable alternative to driving a car. In 2004, the cost of commuting in Indiana nearly doubled, placing a strain on how we live, work and travel.

Without transit alternatives, these realities paint a grim future for citizens of Indianapolis.

In the fall of 2008, seven seniors in the Visual Communication program enrolled at IUPUI formed Passenger, an initiative to explore transit options for Central Indiana. Passenger brought together the perspectives of people from all walks of life—city planners, administrators, designers and citizens—to better understand the transit problem and draft a plan for a solution.

Through this process of research and discussion, Passenger identified the main problem facing transit in Indianapolis: dialogue between citizens and lawmakers on the issue is scarce, and information about transit in Indianapolis is cryptic and hard to come by.

If we choose to continue to neglect how people move around in our city, can we continue to claim the title of ‘Crossroads of America’ in good faith?

Out of the Passenger project rose Fix Indy Transit, a campaign designed to encourage the transit dialogue in Indianapolis and make this information available to all. Fix Indy Transit combines an innovative, grassroots awareness campaign with a clear, easy to use online repository of transit facts. Using this interface, citizens can easily contact lawmakers and share vital transit information with their community.

This campaign is outlined in a comprehensive plan developed for the Indiana Citizen's Alliance for Transit, complete with price estimates. The only missing element is funding.

The availability of transit options will emerge as the single most important issue for Indianapolis in the years to come. Thus, investing in transit awareness is essential to collectively improving our city. To cultivate commerce and the arts alike, it becomes clear that we can no longer ignore our crumbling transit infrastructure. For the sake of our citizens and the global image of Indianapolis, it is time to take a proactive stance on transit.

contact: Cody Fague, //

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding Effective Arguments for Funding Mass Transit

Photo by julien via Flickr.

[I] want to figure out a solid economic argument for mass transit -- a solid economic argument against car sprawl -- an argument that actually has rhetorical impact, can be stated in less than 500 words, uses plain speech, avoids any extraneous explanations about property taxes and federal and state excise taxes, drops in sales taxes, etc.

Read this provocative article and discussion at StreetsBlog. How can we make an effective argument for transit?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Get on board!

We'll be posting relevant transit news, facts and transit history as it pertains to Indianapolis, as well as updates on the Passenger Project to our Twitter page.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Indy Transit History: The Indianapolis Street Car Strike of 1913

Image © 2009 Indiana Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.
The 1892 Indianapolis Streetcar Strike began when workers already upset over low pay and long days were told to give up one of their few benefits – their free streetcar pass. After days of idle streetcars the passes were restored and the strike ended. In this view striking workers have surrounded a streetcar.

Read more about this momentous example of Indy transit activism on Wikipedia.

The awesome photo (and many more) can be found at the Indiana Historical Society's digital library.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Record-breaking transit ridership saved fuel equal to the amount consumed by 20,200 cars in Indiana

In 2008, people in Indiana saved 11,670,000 gallons of gasoline by riding transit in record numbers – the amount consumed by 20,200 cars in Indiana. Transportation is responsible for more than two-thirds of our dependence on oil, and about one-third of our carbon dioxide pollution Environment America outlined in their new report 'Getting On Track: Record Transit Ridership Increases Energy Independence.'

Read this article from the Muncie Free Press.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Transportation Equity Network calls for a new transit vision

When President Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it will provide a down payment on the transportation investment needed to get our economy moving. But the urgency of recreating our national transportation program to address the challenges of the future is more starkly clear than ever.

The Transportation Equity Network works to ensure that transportation, metropolitan growth, and land use policy decisions produce equitable outcomes for all individuals. For the rest of the release or more info, click here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Midwest Governors Coordinate For High-Speed Rail

Eight Midwestern states have agreed to work together to develop a corridor for high-speed rail and apply for federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Exciting news, and a step in the right direction. Read more here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Indiana to Receive $9.4 Million For Transit Upgrades Report

Indiana can count on $9.4 million in stimulus funds for transit upgrades and improvements. Evansville, Terre Haute, Muncie and the Michiana area will use the money to purchase trolley buses, hybrid buses and vans. The Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation will receive $1.7 million to construct a downtown transfer facility.

Check out the article here

Saturday, April 11, 2009

CIRTA's Ehren Bingaman declares "perfect storm" in the Central Indiana pro-transit movement

In this editorial, Bingaman recounts the many pro-transit forces at work, including the concerns of local business leaders over transit issues.

Now, we're once again seeing impressive forces coming together. Over the summer of 2008, transit ridership hit record highs, and local leaders decided to move forward with rapid transit in the northeast corridor of Central Indiana.

Check out the article here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit Launches Website

Visit the Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit (ICAT) website to take action and join ICAT's efforts by advocating for the immediate development and ongoing support of comprehensive transit options in communities across Indiana.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Proposed Solution

After 3 1/2 months (Fall 2008) and 2,500 collective project hours, studying the issue of mass transit in Central Indiana, we have arrived at a solution. On December 5, 2008 we prepared a 29-page Proposal and Implementation book outlining the solution. We handed the proposal over to the Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit in hopes that our thinking can be applied towards the development of a mass transit system.

Central Indiana has inadequate public transportation options because there is a lack of urgency among lawmakers to act on the issue. This lack of urgency is (in part) the result of a lack of consistent pressure from the citizenry, who don’t have an effective channel for dialogue on the issue.

A targeted campaign that raises awareness for a carefully designed interface that facilitates dialogue between the citizenry and legislature on the issue of public transportation.

The campaign we’ve developed has two distinct parts.

1. The AWARENESS segment of the campaign seeks to generate a presence in the mind of pro-transit individuals, making them aware that there is a place where they can easily voice their concerns.

2. The FACILITATION segment of the campaign is the actual interface that the user interacts with, allowing them to easily engage in a dialogue with their legislature to voice their concerns about public transit issues.

The following steps need to happen in order to move the issue from advocacy to development.

Mass Transit Advocacy - Awareness - Facilitation - Legislative Action - Mass Transit Development

(Pictures, links and more information will be available upon implementation of the proposed campaign.)


Special Acknowledgments

Marcia Stone
This project was developed under the instruction of Marcia Stone — “Designing for Innovation” class at Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit - Steering Committee

Our 'Dream Team' members for their valuable insights and input.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit Meeting

On Friday, November 14, we presented our ideas to the Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit (ICAT). The Citizens' Alliance is uniting organizations and citizens under one single voice to address mass transit issues and advocate for the immediate development and ongoing support of comprehensive transit options in communities across Indiana. We are elated to work with the Citizens' Alliance in implementing a solution.

The Indiana Citizens' Alliance for Transit will have a public launch in the coming months. To learn more and to get involved visit ICAT's website.

Many thanks to ICAT's Steering Committee for inviting us to participate in this worthy initiative.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Prototyping and Testing Ideas

We prototyped and tested four ideas. After analyzing user feedback we selected two ideas to optimize and implement.

We will release general solution information, to the public, after December 5.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Media Board

We regularly update our media board with local newspaper and magazine articles about mass transit.

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'Dream Team' Brainstorm Ideas

We reviewed all the ideas from the group brainstorm jam sessions and the 'dream team' brainstorm event. We identified about a dozen ideas that best fit the project's objectives and goals. From those ideas we selected four.

Our next step is to prototype and test the selected ideas, in public spaces, for user feedback.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Riding the "Magic Bus"

Here's a short video of the brainstorming event with our 'dream team' members.

Friday, October 24, 2008

'Dream Team' Brainstorming Event

The brainstorming event with our dream team members took place on a bus. We rode around downtown Indianapolis and stopped at key locations and did narratives (past, present and future) of mass transit as it relates to Central Indiana. We also facilitated brainstorming exercises.

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Group Brainstorming Jam Session

We came together to brainstorm possible ideas. The brainstorm session was very loose and all ideas were written down. We encourage "wild" ideas and to go for quantity.

Our Problem Statement: Inadequate public transportation funding, in Central Indiana, is the result of a lack of urgency to act within local government.

We started with the words; "ways to create urgency" from there the ideas started flowing. The pace was fast and steady. The goal of this session was to foster an environment were ideas are not judged.

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Our next step was to facilitate a brainstorming event with our dream team of content experts, front liners and users of public transportation.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

City Leaders Take Trip to Study Mass Transit

Indianapolis - The city is looking at other cities for ideas to build an efficient mass-transit system in Indianapolis.

As part of their research, dozens of city leaders took a chartered jet to Denver for a three-day trip to study the Mile High City's new light rail.

"They've done a lot with mass transit," said Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce President Roland Dorson.

Read the article (WTHR 13)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

City Planning More Bike Lanes

Indianapolis - Bike to work day happens once a year, but the mayor would like to see more people bike to work every day.

"As you know we're committed to being a more sustainable city and that includes being bike friendly," said Mayor Greg Ballard. (WTHR 13)

Read the article (WTRH 13)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Is Indy Cool-Proof?

This article mentions two innovative transportation options; The Bike Dispenser and Zipcar, currently not available in Indianapolis.

Read the article (

Thursday, October 9, 2008

IndyGo Public Meeting

On Thursday, October 2 we attended a public meeting where IndyGo discussed fare increases, route eliminations and overall operation state of IndyGo. Many IndyGo riders expressed their concerns about the new changes.

After the meeting we met Michael A. Terry; Interim President & CEO of IndyGo and discussed some of the issues regarding Mass Transportation in Central Indiana as well as what other U.S. cities are doing to enhance their transit systems.

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Read and watch IndyGo meeting coverage, IndyGo Decides To Up Rates (WISH TV 8)

Research Findings Overview Presentation

After finding cited facts and analyzing our research we defined the problem; 'Inadequate public transportation funding, in Central Indiana, is the result of a lack of urgency to act within local government.'

We spent the following week editing copy and visual content for our presentation. We presented to the senior visual communication class at Herron.

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Selected screen captions of our presentation (above)

After the presentation we debriefed and started preparing for the next step.

Our next step is communicating with our 'dream team' members to further discuss the issues, brainstorm possible ideas and solutions.