Improving transit helps those who rely on it—and everyone else too

I don’t really expect to directly benefit from better transit in Indianapolis—maybe a reliable, faster-paced line from downtown to the airport is something I would use, but I’m not a day-to-day rider. To me, the primary benefit of improving the transportation system is that it improves the city. It makes Indianapolis a better place in a number of ways.

First, we would be able to catch up to a lot of cities that we’re competing with for residents and employers. That’s the economic reality: Indianapolis is competing with other metropolitan markets to have talent come here. It’s good for the city when they do. And an upgraded transit system, particularly in the downtown area, is going to make us more competitive.

Secondly, I’m a statistics guy, and it’s shocking to see how much of an impact a reliable transit system has on the most underserved population in the city. It’s fascinating to me that access to reliable public transportation is the No. 1 predictor of whether a family in poverty can achieve financial stability—an even better predictor than access to good education. That’s because if a low income family has access to safe, reliable public transportation, that family has more access to sustainable income. In Indianapolis, it’s very unfortunate that we have decent paying warehousing and transportation jobs on the west side and they can’t find people because they can’t get there from the core of the city. And that’s just one example.

There’s no doubt improving public transportation helps needy families. But being able to get those individuals and families to work benefits the entire area. It’s creating a tax base. It’s taking a family from being on the brink of needing social services to being financially sustainable. That’s good for us all.

I think a lot about the city, since I work in real estate and live downtown. Anyone who lives or works in Indianapolis will benefit from having a higher-grade public transportation system. It clearly benefits the city. It’s a no brainer.