State Bill Could Kill Indy BRT Line

A law proposed in the Indiana state legislature would ban dedicated bus lanes and force IndyGo to cancel a planned bus rapid transit line to the city's airport.

2 minute read

January 14, 2022, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Indianapolis Bus Rapid Transit

Momoneymoproblemz / Wikimedia Commons

Kayla Dwyer reports on a state preemption effort that would effort to ban dedicated bus lanes from much of downtown Indianapolis, effectively canceling a planned bus rapid transit line that would connect downtown to the Indianapolis International Airport.

The proposed bill would prohibit IndyGo from building dedicated bus lanes outside of the Mile Square neighborhood, with lawmakers voicing concerns about increased congestion and delays for drivers. But an analysis of a plan that puts BRT lanes on the left side of the street showed that vehicle wait times at intersections wouldn't exceed the city standard of 55 seconds or less.

Since federal funding for the BRT project is contingent on dedicated bus lanes, the new law would cut short IndyGo's efforts to build the new line by eliminating $100 million in federal funds that are crucial to the $220-million project. In a statement, the agency said "This move would effectively cripple an entire system designed to provide improved, faster and more reliable transit for Marion County," expressing disappointment at lawmakers' reluctance to prioritize rapid transit. 

At lawmakers' request, IndyGo presented two alternative designs, both of which would add millions to the total cost of the project and provide slower service for bus users.

IndyGo's BRT projects survived legislative peril last year, when lawmakers sought to hold the agency responsible for a higher percentage of its costs with Senate Bill 141, which failed to advance out of committee.

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