One of the foundational dilemmas of developing and managing an urban bus network is the tradeoff between service coverage and frequency.
A recent thinkpiece from Governing by researchers Stephen Goldsmith and Wyatt Cmar explores how transit managers in Indianapolis are dealing with the problem of whether to consolidate services to reach the most riders with the fastest possible rides, or maintain service delivery across as large an area as possible.
In Indianapolis, as is the case for so many other cities, the connections between jobs, housing and other amenities have all changed drastically over the years as neighborhoods and transportation options have evolved, putting pressure on the bus system.
Mike Terry, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Public Transportation, says that he and his colleagues first envisioned updating the city’s transit options by creating a grid-based bus system that connects a series of frequent service lines.
However, because of money constraints, they instead decided to build a strong core system and utilize new transportation modes (rideshares and bikeshares, mainly) to serve residents beyond a comfortable walking distance from transit.
The spine of the improved Indianapolis transit system will consist of three bus rapid transit routes. Small design changes, such as locating bike racks inside of buses, will allow multimodal commuters to quickly and comfortably get where they are going. Level boarding at station platforms will further reduce time-intensive loading periods.