Is Indy’s tech ecosystem key to Indy’s public transit success?
If you should happen to board an IndyGo bus rapid transit vehicle on the Red Line, which opens to the public on September 1, don’t be surprised to see fellow tech ecosystem members along for the ride.
The Red Line, which runs 13 miles from Broad Ripple through downtown Indy to the University of Indianapolis, will deliver passengers to the state’s largest concentration of jobs. Many of those downtown jobs are tech companies whose leaders count sustainability among the key elements of their culture. Often, those green company initiatives percolate up from employees.
Another indication the tech ecosystem will supply Red Line users is the record number of tech companies that have signed on as partners with this year’s Car Free Day Indy. Organized locally by Commuter Connect, Car Free Day is September 20, and officials there are excited by unprecedented interest from the tech community.
Indy tech companies demonstrate passion and culture through pledges
Nearly 30% of the more than 50 companies and organizations encouraging their employees to take the Car Free/Car Lite pledge are tech or tech-enabled. In prior years, participation included only a few tech firms. This year, Eli Lilly & Company, HomeAdvisor, Infosys, Kronos, Launch Indy, Lev, Roche Diagnostics Corp., Rolls-Royce, Springbuk, SupplyKick and Zylo are also encouraging their employees to take the pledge.
Signing onto Car Free Day Indy made perfect sense for Zylo, said Julie Barker, Zylo’s vice president of talent.
“Our team has a passion for this, and we already have many team members who regularly bike or walk into work,” she said. “We recently had a team member come forward wanting to start an internal committee solely focused on sustainability; participating in Car Free Day Indy is just one of the many ways we would like to promote this effort.”
For those not yet on that sustainability movement, Julie says the global celebration could be “a great reminder for our team on the many ways they can be car-free for their commute and hopefully inspire some to try the new Red Line.”
Kronos Incorporated was also eager to take part. The company was one of the first tech companies this year to sign to the Car Free Day Indy effort.
“Being environmentally responsible is a key part of our WorkInspired culture,” said Melissa Sargent, corporate services manager at Kronos. “We’re always looking for ways to create a more sustainable workplace for our employees, as well as provide opportunities for Kronites [what Kronos employees call themselves] to get involved and give back to the communities where we live and work.”
Angie’s List has encouraged biking and commuting for years and was a past host of a Car Free Day Indy campus celebration for employees who took the Car Free pledge.
“We’re excited to see so many companies involved in the day this year,” said Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie’s List. “At Angie’s List, we are always looking for new ways to be good neighbors and we love this program. The corporate challenge should add a new element of engagement and we are excited to see how this will further encourage participation this year.”
Car Free Day offers incentives to encourage people and companies to try public transportation
Car Free Day urges area residents to take a bus, bike, walk, scooter or go “car lite” by carpooling or vanpooling on Friday, Sept. 20. Anyone who takes the online pledge at CarFreeDayIndy.com is in line to receive great prizes and can snag a free breakfast at Cummins Plaza, 301 E. Market St., from 7a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch on Monument Circle from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Employees from organizations that go one step further and join the Car Free Day Corporate Challenge are eligible for additional group prizes. The Corporate Challenge will reward three teams: the largest team by number of employees within the organization; the largest team by percentage of participating employees; and the team that offers the most compelling social media post using the hashtag #CarFreeDayIndy.
“Central Indiana loves to compete, so we thought adding a corporate challenge was a fun way to mix things up for our fourth year,” said Jennifer Gebhard, manager of the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority’s Commuter Connect, which organizes the event. “We hope this one-day event helps people use alternative transportation more often.”
The Red Line will be the nation’s first 100% battery-electric bus rapid transit route. It operates on College Avenue, 38th Street, Capitol Avenue and Meridian, Virginia and Shelby Streets. Red Line rides are free Sept. 1-30. Rides on other IndyGo bus routes will be free Sept. 1-14 as IndyGo encourages central Indiana motorists to give public transportation a try.
“Many Hoosiers are used to driving themselves to work, and changing that mindset can be hard,” said Lauren Day from IndyGo. “But the tide is turning. We’re seeing young and old alike eagerly embracing public transit.”
Red Line buses will run between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m. during the week with stops every quarter-mile or half-mile along the route. Buses should arrive every 10 minutes during peak travel times. Weekend runs will be shorter – from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 10 pm. on Sundays. The cost to ride is $1.75