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Mobility is a struggle when you're poor and disabled

A brief description of traversing Indianapolis with physical, mental, and financial constraints

Photo of Jennifer Atkinson
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My son and I are currently blessed to live in safe, affordable housing. However, neither of us drive. My mental health makes it unsafe, my son's autism means he won't be mature enough to handle the responsibility for a few more years. But, there's also the fact that having a vehicle costs money we just don't have to spare. We are just a few miles from family, but getting to them to visit requires them picking us up, or we have to take two buses (over an hour, not including a wait at the transit center) then walk the remaining way. The walking becomes taxing on my body, and the effects are felt for days to come. 

Then there's the days we have doctor's appointments. Yes, we are able to schedule transportation for those through insurance, but that isn't always reliable. One appointment can be an all day thing when using the bus. And the bus to our home stops running fairly early, so we have to watch the clock very closely. It's cheaper to use the insurance provided ride, but definitely less convenient.

Grocery shopping is a nightmare! Finding a Kroger on the bus line, because Walmart doesn't deserve our business, takes over 2 hours! If family is unavailable, we have to make multiple trips, on multiple days, and each trip pushes my anxiety to the brink. No, I can't do grocery delivery, because we're poor. In this world, this city, the poor still get treated as less than.

Remember the safe housing I mentioned above? We now are needing to move so my son is able to get to college daily with his sanity intact, so he can be a success and rise above our current economic conditions. All because it's too long of a bus ride to go 6 miles. Six. Miles!

Now, the BRT (red line) is supposed to cut wait times, be more reliable and connect areas previously unreachable. That's great, if you're a business owner in Westfield or Greenwood, or can afford one of the thousands of overpriced luxury downtown apartments. It doesn't benefit the riders who will be paying more to ride. It doesn't benefit the areas where service is already too infrequent. I originally thought the plan was great, but the emphasis should have been on creating/implementing the grid based system first. Increase ridership first, then make it more efficient with the BRT. 

I believe Indianapolis needs to move to a more equal mindset: build as many low rent/affordable units as luxury apartments, implement income based & reliable public transit, connect those with disabilities who aren't elderly with delivery services, and help elevate the poor to feel like we matter.

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Photo of Alexander Hoffmann

Jennifer Atkinson I appreciate your honest insight about your experience with transit in Indianapolis. This perspective provides valuable context and this challenge seeks to work closely with community members to get their voices heard. If you're able to make it to the community working sessions, it would be great to have this perspective present to develop ideas and opportunities within the Indianapolis community. Thanks!