IBJ Power Breakfast Series: Going Green
CIRTA’s Executive Director Speaks on Transit and the Environment
How might an expanded transit system affect commerce? This is just one of the many topics discussed at the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Power Breakfast Series: Going Green, on March 1, 2012, at the Marriott Downtown.
The program featured a panel discussion between Ehren Bingaman, Executive Director of Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), Dr. Tim Carter, Director of the Center for Urban Ecology at Butler University, Director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Indianapolis John Hazlett, President of Indiana Renewable Energy Association Chris Rohaly, and Dan Schmidt, Director of Energy Development at Schmidt Associates.
The session opened up with Ehren Bingaman, who talked in-depth about where the city is at when it comes to building a robust mass transportation system. Bingaman explained that this legislative session showed that strong messengers like the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and CIRTA are critical components in the process, but in the end, the decision to not move forward with transit this session came down to what legislators see in their districts.
“We need to be better at communicating the value of a comprehensive mass transportation system and at describing the many benefits,” said Bingaman.
From Bingaman’s perspective, the need for mass transit was once a regional issue, but it now extends beyond our region. He explained that in order to bring private businesses in and create jobs, they need to see value.
“Right now we are wholly dependent on one format of mobility. We need to invest in a transit system, and we need to involve businesses with a mind for sustainability,” he said.
The discussion then turned to other cities that have been successful at building up mass transit, such as Denver. In Denver, businesses that privately fund the transit system are guaranteed a return on their investment.
“In the end, it comes back to one thing- do you have the revenue dedicated to give back to the investors?”
After all of the panelists had a chance to speak, audience members then weighed in, asking several questions. Of the many questions, one audience member inquired about IndyGo’s ridership increase during the week of the Super Bowl and if this was any indication of what the city and region can expect in the next ten years, as the population continues to climb.
“What the Super Bowl showed was that when folks were in a pinch, they went and looked for options. We need to have more viable options,” Bingaman said.
In order to attract 21st century employees in this 21st century economy, CIRTA will continue to refine the Indy Connect plan, launch an alternative analysis of the Central, North, South, East and West corridors, and continue to provide superior products and services.
Bingaman says it’s time to also take a good hard look at how we can exhaust all of the funding options to move this forward.
“We owe it to the conversation to make sure we’ve looked at all the possibilities out there.”