I have suggested IndyGo, to acculturate the citizens of Indianapolis and Marion County to take mass transit, should:
1) Increase the number of bus routes to optimize the number of potential riders. We should have bus routes in areas where the numbers of potential riders is greatest.
2) Increase the number of buses on those routes so that during peak hours, especially, someone need wait no more than ten minutes for a bus.
3) Make sure the buses run on time and are functional.
AND, ONCE AGAIN THE DRUM ROLL----
4) Abandon, for one year, bus fares.
Why do I suggest one year? If fares are not charged for a week? That probably is not enough time. People will cling to the old—the convenience of one’s car—rather than experience the new—the ride on the bus. One year might entice people to try the bus.
This is not to say people would use IndyGo for “free.” We provide tax dollars for our bus system. In the long-term mass transit saves money and cuts pollution—or so is the notion popular amongst mass transit advocates. I will save that topic for a later blog.
Also, there probably are Federal funds available for such an experiment. We have paid into the Federal government to provide such funds. We should take advantage of them, if they are available.
There are several instances in which riding the bus would be preferable to driving a car by oneself:
1) Commute to and from work. Many of our citizens cannot afford a car, or the expense of parking. People need to get to school or to work. We should provide better education and better-paying jobs. In the meantime, transportation by bus helps.
2) Again, commute to and from work, but for people with greater incomes. If a person works downtown, parking is a problem and often (depending upon whether an employer provides parking or one’s workplace is located where parking without charge is available) costs money out-of-pocket. Gasoline costs money. Wear and tear on one’s vehicle is a long-term cost. If one takes the bus, one saves money.
3) Travel to and from social events. Meals are interrupted, and the cause of anxiety, for fear the meter will run out. On the other hand, a parking garage can be very expensive. Then again, a “designated driver” is not necessary if one takes the bus. On the day of The Indianapolis 500(trademark), buses run from downtown out to IMS. We should have ready access to buses at a frequency such that the buses, on major routes during peak times, are readily available.
4) Travel to and from museums. Wait—this is Indianapolis. We need more museums. The Eiteljorg, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Indiana State Museum, and The Children’s Museum are good. A trip on the bus saves money.
Before anyone pushes for a “red line” down College Avenue, we should improve our current bus system. We should make it practical and dependable so that many more people ride the bus. After that—maybe the redline will not be needed. Then again, maybe people will see some sort of advantage to it. In any event, if we give hundreds of millions of dollars to owners of professional sports franchises, expenditures on this experiment should be considered. If the experiment does not work, as I wrote yesterday, we always can sell the leftover buses.