It has been a long time coming, but better transit is pulling into Indianapolis. About a decade ago, our agency got involved to help this initiative succeed, and we helped carry that torch all the way to the City-County Council meeting last month, where they voted to approve the 0.25% income tax increase that Marion County residents had voted for in the referendum last November.
When civic and city leaders completed the initial regional transit study 10 years ago that looked at all modes of transportation, including light rail, bus and bike, CVR was there to help. The agency recommended a new name for the initiative – Indy Connect. We were then tasked with raising awareness of the initial plan and soliciting public input. Utilizing television, outdoor, transit ads and a fairly new tool called Facebook, CVR was able to gather over 10,000 opinions from citizens regarding the plan. CVR also held over 100 public meetings to get in-person feedback on the idea.
Fast forward to 2 years ago: IndyGo was getting ready to submit the Federal Small Starts grant for the Red Line. CVR was tasked to hold public meetings along the route during the spring and summer of 2015 to get input on the plan before the grant application was submitted. We also did research about the IndyGo brand and learned that there was good brand equity and that riders give IndyGo credit for doing the best they can with very few resources. (If you didn’t know, funding for IndyGo was cut significantly over time and operators had to purchase used buses from other cities just to maintain routes). Once the state legislature allowed each county to hold a referendum on transit funding, it opened the door for IndyGo to tell its story and see if the public wanted better transit options.
From what we could tell from the over 50 public meetings on the Red Line and the Five-Year Marion County Transit Plan, residents of all ages wanted better transit in Indianapolis. Younger citizens did not want the expense of a car, and older residents wanted the freedom to enjoy the city after they could not drive. So, then it happened. Our City-County Council debated the issue for months but, in the end, voted overwhelmingly with their constituents to approve the increased funding that would allow IndyGo to increase the number of buses, the frequency of stops and longer consistent hours every day so students and workers could rely on the bus for early morning or late evening trips.
CVR has a long history of helping Indianapolis become the city it is today. We are proud of our efforts to help IndyGo, Indy Chamber and Indy Connect achieve their goal of better transit that was 10 years in the making. We are Building Brands That Matter.