Plans for a bus rapid transit system in Indianapolis have received a major boost in the form of a $2 million federal grant to begin environmental and design work on the first line — one that would connect the UIndy campus with the north and south suburbs and key destinations throughout the city.
The Red Line, one of five outlined in the broader $1.3 billion BRT proposal, would run 28 miles from Westfield to Greenwood, with stops at or near Carmel City Center, Nora, Broad Ripple, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the Children’s Museum, IU Health Methodist Hospital, state government buildings, downtown sports venues, the Eli Lilly and Anthem complexes, Fountain Square, Garfield Park, Southport and Greenwood Park Mall. The proposed UIndy station would be at Hanna Avenue and Shelby Street. A BRT system would employ electric buses running on dedicated lanes with elevated, train-like stops at approximate one-mile or half-mile intervals.
The four cities on the route are pledging $1 million in matching funds to obtain the federal planning grant, which will open the door to further funding for the actual construction of the estimated $100 million-plus project. Making the line a reality still depends on local referenda to raise property taxes, among other hurdles. Once begun, possibly as soon as 2017, construction of the Red Line is expected to take two to three years.
In response to the news, UIndy President Robert Manuel called the proposed transit line “a game-changer that will create new economic development zones and provide fuel-efficient access to business, shopping, sports and other activities.”
“As a major employer and southside anchor that offers more than 200 cultural attractions a year, the University of Indianapolis is excited about the prospect of a rapid transit line that will broaden access to our events as well as provide new opportunities for our students, employees and neighbors to connect more easily with the city and suburbs,” he added. “We support a diverse transportation system in Indianapolis that includes eBRT, electric cars and charging stations, bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-friendly routes, as well as automobiles. We are excited to be a stop on the Red Line and look forward to that first bus coming around the corner.”