By Sadie Hunter
In 2017, Indy Connect has the goal of educating central Indiana about transit, and last week, a series of workshops in Greenwood, Carmel and Lawrence were the start.
From March 9 to 11, residents and stakeholders from the three areas met for workshops where Michelle Poyourow, a senior associate with Jarrett Walker and Associates, a transit-planning firm based out of Portland, Ore., discussed how communities plan and talk about transit.
“What we really specialize in is helping communities have very clear conversations about what they want in their transit service,” Poyourow told Current. “One thing that is a surprise to people is that you can be pro-transit and want very different goals from transit than your pro-transit neighbors. So there’s some conflicting goals in what transit tries to serve, and what we’re talking to people about (at these workshops) is we’re helping them learn what those conflicting goals are, understand why they arise, and then think about how their own values can inform what they think transit should be.”
The three workshops were modeled exactly the same. Those who attended played a game to design a transit plan for a fictional town, Prairieville, where green, blue and red transit lines were used representing one bus and one driver per line but arriving at points at different time intervals – every hour, half hour and 15 minutes, respectively.
“(Participants) notice conflicts while working on a fictional city, and then they can apply that knowledge and understanding to conversations about their own community,” Poyourow said.
“A good transit plan is a plan that matches what the community wants, and every community’s values are different,” said Cindy Benedict, project manager for Indy Connect Engagement. “There’s a transit plan for central Indiana, and the way that the state law was done, all of the planning and funding has to be local, either at the township level or the county level. It’s challenging because good transit planning needs to be regional because we all cross these boundaries all the time. What we try to do through Indy Connect is sort of plan regionally, but we have to go in with that perspective and do it locally. What we’re finding is that where transit works best is where there’s density closest to Marion County, and the farther out you get, the less need they have for transit, which isn’t to say they have none, but what it means is they don’t really want to pay an income tax. So in most of the donut counties, they’re taking the township approach.”
Benedict said through the rest of 2017, Indy Connect will be in Hamilton County and Greenwood hosting community listening sessions.
“This year is a year of education,” she said.
To see future events when they’re announced, visit indyconnect.org.