Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Public Transportation Would Benefit Indy
I had a fun time in Chicago. It was great and relaxing, and I didn't even use my car. The first thing I did was park my auto at a friend's apartment, purchase a three-day pass for the CTA, and hop on a train for downtown to check in to my hotel.
I only was in one car after that, a taxi. Other than that, I was riding the CTA.
The thing about Chicago's system of transportation (and those of you familiar with it will corroborate this) is that everyone uses it. No one really drives in downtown Chicago except for tourists and taxi drivers. According to the CTA, 1.7 million people ride the system EACH DAY! There are folks in suits on the "L" and on the buses. Other folks look like they are carrying everything they own. There are folks carrying shopping bags or take-out food, and the ever-present tourists on board with souvenirs and suitcases.
The CTA connects to both major Chicago airports and has light rail "METRA" and "South Shore" rail service that runs through to outer suburbs like Gary. It's of course a system that's developed over the entire second half of the 20th Century and is now trying to update for the 21st Century with upgrades to several stations currently in progress. Each station is staffed by helpful CTA employees, and I never felt unsafe even on the high-traffic Red Line. Each of the buses and trains are driven by real people. In short, the CTA is a jobs jobs jobs magnet.
For riders, a variety of ways to ride the CTA exist in various fare packages. Visitor's passes are available at CVS locations as well as other stores in the Chicagoland area.
I think Indianapolis could benefit in more ways than just traffic relief from a public transportation system. Of course, it would be on a much smaller scale than the Windy City's system, but, even an investment in the IndyGo bus system to upgrade it into a true public transportation system for all of the metro area, would be a big step forward.
Light rail is what we really need though. I would be a frequent user of a vibrant integrated train-bus system. There's nothing for Hoosiers to be afraid of with this. Let's imagine a Westsider's interaction with the system. You can drive your car to a nice parking area (perhaps a new use for the old parking lots at the old Airport Terminal?) and ride the train down to Union Station where IndyGo buses potentially pick you up and take you to work, to shopping, to dinner, whatever.
I know IndyGo is trying to make strides forward with their Greenwood to Indy runs, and the bus system is also working on a northern express route but there's nothing out there for folks on the Eastside or Westside. The system is very non-user friendly.
As a side effect of using public transportation and ditching my car in Chicago, I know I walked more. If you know what I look like and my level of physical activity, you might be surprised to know that I walked so much that I put blisters on my feet. I left the city feeling good and refreshed as well as a sense of accomplishment that I walked a few miles each day. I definitely now want to keep it up.
In the meantime, I recommend that when you're in Chicago, try out the CTA. I enjoyed the ride!
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