May 7, 2013
Past/Present/Future: Mass Transit Innovation

Although Indianapolis is currently grappling with the question of mass transit, innovative Hoosiers once led the world in transit technology.


Indiana once featured one of the best interurban transit systems in the country. The Centennial History and Handbook of Indiana (1915) called the city’s interurban transit system “magnificent” and noted: “The completeness of the street car service of Indianapolis is one of its most notable features. Over 168 miles of track are in operation, reaching all sections of the city, parks and suburbs.” Even Indianapolis’ Traction Terminal was thought to be the first and finest of its kind in the nation. But, after World War I, the interurban system began to decline. The rise of busing technology and increasing affordability and reliability of cars were to blame for this decline. Slowly, interurban lines, tracks, and terminals began to disappear.

How do you think the interurban changed the landscape of Indiana? Do you see that influence still today?



Most of the infrastructure from Indiana’s rail transit system 100 years ago is gone. However, as the population of Indianapolis has increased, and as people flocked to the suburbs, public transit is once again hotly debated within the halls of Indiana’s State House. The current plan includes creating a light rail system, increasing bus options, as well as improving roads and bike paths.

How would light rail in Indianapolis change the state?



What innovative transit solution would you like to see Indiana create in the future? How can Hoosiers help?

To learn more about Indiana’s Interurban in the 1910s, join us for INtoxicating History on June 6th. Learn more here:

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