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Monday, October 25, 2021

CIRTA shuttles help Indy residents get to work

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Increasingly, jobs have become available in areas such as Whitestown and Plainfield, which are about 30 minutes from downtown Indianapolis. Although employers are seeking workers, some Indianapolis residents have a hard time getting to jobs.

The Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA) recently provided a new shuttle service route to get job-seekers and employees to Whitestown and North Plainfield, which have employers such as Amazon, GNC, the Walmart Distribution Center and more. 

Lori Kaplan, interim executive director of CIRTA, said last week was the first week for the shuttles to run on a permanent schedule. 

“We at CIRTA are very much focused on assisting people with transit options,” Kaplan said. “We get a lot of calls from people who are trying to figure out how to get where the jobs are.”

Although CIRTA already has a Plainfield connector, they found others were needed. CIRTA received a three-year grant to fund the new shuttles. 

Anthony Perona, interim town manager of the Town of Plainfield, sees how Plainfield benefits from both the original connector and the new one.

“For the people who ride the bus, they don’t have to maintain a car and it’s a reliable way to get to and from their jobs,” Perona said. “The benefits for Plainfield are that we have business parks (warehouse districts) that need employees and this is a way to facilitate and get a bus service started.”

Kaplan said since most employees already pay a bus fare for IndyGo, they keep the shuttle fare at $1 per ride. 

However, the grant does not allow enough funds for shuttles to run 24/7. Employees can ride the shuttle at 5:15 a.m., which allows them to get to work by 6 a.m. The first shuttle picks up downtown and goes directly to business parks AllPoints at Anson and AllPoints Midwest. 

While this is a main challenge for CIRTA, as a new service, they also face other challenges. 

“Getting the word out is always a main focus for us,” Kaplan said. “We try different kinds of avenues to get the word out. No matter what we do, no matter how much we advertise, someone calls and says ‘I had no idea!’” 

Although Plainfield is involved with the start-up of the new connectors, their goal is to get the shuttle independently funded.  

“Whether (funding) is through additional grants somewhere or players like Amazon and Walmart.com, (the goal is) companies that employ a lot of people realize the value of the bus service and start contributing,” Perona said. 

Kaplan agrees, and believes funding and support “takes a village.”

“As we see, it is successful. We try to work with local communities and businesses to find a sustainable source of funding for these connectors,” Kaplan said. “Public transportation does not pay for itself. It takes public funding to keep it going.”

 

For more information, visit Cirta.us.

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