Transportation needed to keep army of service workers on the job

I own Tastings, a wine bar in downtown Indianapolis, and live in Fall Creek Place.  I either drive or ride my bike to work, but I’m interested in transit because we have employees who use it to get here every day. It’s also a factor for our guests and how easily accessible our location is to people outside the city.

The people on our team who use public transportation say it has gotten a lot better since we opened in 2009. But biggest issue for them is its reliability: Is the bus going to be on time? How often does it come to my stop? How late will it be running? Those are the big things. For our closing team, if they get off at 1 a.m., the bus isn’t an option. A lot of them have to arrange rides from family and friends, or we’ve taken some staff members home after hours. Worst case, they’re stuck hopping in a cab and taking a $50 ride home, which kind of defeats the purpose of working.

Not everybody who needs a job lives downtown, and we have applicants who live outside the city and can’t get into town for the interview. Or even if they can make it, that’s just the first step. How are they going to get here five days a week to actually work the shift? Finding reliable transportation is tough, especially when you’re working in the service or hospitality industry.

Indianapolis has done a great job attracting visitors to the convention center, the hotels, all the new restaurants. So we have a tremendous amount of hospitality industry folks. But how do they get downtown? It’s got to be a two-sided approach. We can’t just focus on bringing more people into Indianapolis, which is great for business, if there’s nobody there to take care of them once they arrive. It takes an army of people to serve everyone, and they need safe, reliable transportation.

The majority of our clientele now is coming from downtown. We’re fortunate to be in an area where there are a lot of hotels and restaurants, and we’re seeing a lot of that foot traffic. But what about people who live on the south side or the north side? We see them after work, but they don’t spend a lot of time coming downtown on the weekend. I think a lot of that is ease of access. Parking isn’t getting any better, and a lot of people just don’t want to mess with it.

From a business standpoint, I believe a rising tide raises all ships. If we can bring sustainable, safe, reliable transportation to the city, it’s going to benefit everybody.