A really cool thing just began in Indianapolis, a bus called the"Red Line" just began. It has a certain route and you can ride it for free and get off basically anywhere that you want. It frequents ever 15 mins. I think it is great, especially if you are on IUPUI campus for school and you need to get downtown. Of course it is nice for tourists, you can park your car and then do the rest of the day via foot and free bus. It pass most of the downtown tourist areas or it it really close to them. Then if you need to you can connect to other buses to take you farther out into the other various parts of the city.
The only thing about this bus system here in Indianapolis, is that there isn't many bus shelters at the bus stops. So no matter the weather you are unable to escape until the bus arrives.
Currently Indy is experiencing the Hyperfix. They have closed down most of the highways through the downtown to make some much needed repairs. Traveling through Indy is almost impossible, unless you know the sidestreets. If you must pass through, the suggested routes are on I-465. However, this is also going through some major overhaul on the east/northeast side
It's scheduled to be completed in August, at which point the traffic should lighten up. Average additional commute from the southside is 15 minutes. This decreases the earlier that you get on the road.
A tip/warning for visitors from a frustated resident:
If, like me, you prefer to do your traveling without being burdened by driving a car in an unfamiliar city, you'd better choose a different destination. Indianapolis has for some decades now had probably the worst bus system of any city its size in the country. This is not my opinion--the statistics bear it out. Many buses run only once per hour, some less than that, and service is almost non-existent after dark.
Specifically, it is difficult to get into town from the airport by bus most of the day, and mostly impossible after sundown. There is one Amtrak train through Indianapolis, but our bus system does not operate early enough in the morning or late enough at night to allow someone to catch the train in either direction.
Routes are byzantine and transfers impossible--if you miss a transfer, you might be stranded for an hour or more, if not overnight. The bus system recently had a financial crisis because nobody was using this impossible-to-use system, and the city responded by eliminating more routes. This is a severe hardship for tourists as well as locals. Because there are few transportation alternatives, taxis are very expensive.
If you are in Illinois, Kentucky, Western Ohio, or Southern Michigan, Indianapolis is only a few hours drive and is easy to get via the Interstates 65, 69 & 70. Other than that, your probably flying into Indianapolis International Airport. Once in Indy, rent a car or if you are only staying downtown just rent cabs.
Indianapolis is a small city, so, getting around town in a rental car is easy and quick. From downtown, you can get to any of the suburbs in twenty minutes or less.
Because of its size and the ease of parking, Indianapolis does not have any real mass transit. I do not even think the bus system is that extensive! So, if you do not rent a car, take a cab. Those do exist in this 'one horse' city. Walking also works for all things “downtown.”
In all big cities find a cheap and convient parking is hard. Indy is still small enough that it isn't too hard or too pricy.
THE BIG SECRET:
Park under the Mall.
entrance: (easiest) Heading west on Washington, cross Meridian and be in the Left lane.
It is immediately on the left and you follow it down under the ground.
price: $1.50 for 3 hrs. (a great deal)
* Around the Holidays and special events it gets full fast,
so this is great during any non-busy time and worth a try
even if it is busy.
There is a really great new bus system that just began April 2006. It is called Megabus and it is really a great way to travel around the MidWest. The tickets are fairly reasonable. The website says that if you book your ticket far enough in advance you can get your ticket for $1. A last minute round trip ticket from Indianapolis to Chicago is $35, which isn't bad. The MegaBus can take you either to Chicago or Cincinnati. Or in Chicago you can go to Cleveland, Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, or Toledo. Maybe in time from Indianapolis we will have more direct city options other than Chicago and Cincinnati. My friend just used the bus last weekend and she said her trip to Chicago was great, after a weekend of fun it was nice to sleep on the way home and not worry about driving. And it was nice to not have to worry about a car in Chicago!
Downtown Indianapolis is very walkable! Most attractions are within a few blocks of the downtown hotels and Monument Circle, including the RCA Dome & Convention Center, museums, White River Park, Conseco Fieldhouse, Circle Center, and IUPUI campus. Signs posted almost every block guide you to your destination.
Driving in Indianapolis is pleasant. Unlike driving in Chicago like I do all the time, nobody tails you and it seems like everyone uses their signal.
The only thing that is a little annoying is driving downtown. The streets are not named in any specific pattern which makes it a little difficult to find your way around. The signs around town help out a little, pointing you in the right direction to major attractions in town.
Indianapolis is within a day's drive for half of the population of the USA. It is 3 hours drive or less from Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, and many other cities.
Major highways that pass through Indianapolis are: I-65, 74, 70, and 69.
From Chicago, head east on I-90 or 80/94 to I-65 south.
From Cincinnati, head west on I-74.
From Columbus, head west on I-70.
From Nashville and Louisville, head north on I-65.
From St. Louis and Kansas City, head east on I-70.
From Detroit, head west on I-94 and south on I-69.
Public transportation in Indy stinks, a few buses run on major routes but if you want to get around town you'd better have a car (reinforcing the idea that Indy is more of a "hyper-suburb" rather than a city.)
But for s***s and giggles you can always ride the monorail. This piece of outlandish political pork connects the hospitals at the IUPUI campus with Methodist Hospital just north of downtown. The 10 minute ride provides some interesting views, and a planned third stop will dump riders (if there are any) off at the north end of the canal walk.
The best way to get in and out of the Indy area are from it's major highways. I70 and I65 are the two most commonly used entrance and exit highways of the city.
If coming from the East or West I70 will bring you through the heart of downtown Indianapolis from either the St. Louis area or Columbus to the east.
However, if you are coming from the north or south I65 will bring you to your destination. Interstate 65 continues up north to Chicago and to the south towards Louisville.
Cab and bus use are not that common in Indianapolis. Indianapolis' downtown is small enough to walk and see in a day.
However, if you are interested in seeing the Indy 500 track and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I would suggest using a car as that is way to far to walk.
Indianapolis is quite laid out, and the North Side and downtown are not walking distance from one another. Cabs are not popular and hard to hail on the street. The East-West streets on the North Side are numbered (most of the major ones) going up from downtown. The N-S streets do not have numbers, and the South Side streets do not either. This is really not an issue, because the North Side and downtown is where everything is, and the N-S street's names become easy to remember. Meridian, Keystone, and College are the three main North Side arteries, with Meridian having the most traffic.
Not having a good reliable public transit system is something I really hate about home. If you want to go anywhere, you really need a car. There are some exceptions...
Staying in the Downtown area, you can walk to any number of shops, bars, clubs, sporting events, restaurants, etc. Broad Ripple Village is fun to walk around, but there are no hotels of which I am aware.
Otherwise, you will need a car. Driving in Indianapolis is easy. At worst, if you need over, or cut someone off, just wave. 9 times out of 10, they'll wave or nod back.
By plane, you'll fly into Indianapolis International Airport on the West side of town. Actually, you'll land approximately five miles from the airport and just taxi around in the plane the rest of the way.
By car, more major highways run through Indy than anywhere else in the US. Once you hit I-465, the road signs are pretty idiot-proof.
Dude, public transportation in Indy, such as it is, is scary. You really need to have a car. There's just no other way of getting from A to B. I-465 is brilliant. Visiters-it's just a big circle around the city, so you can't get that lost. Indy roads are perpetually under construction, and snow removal in winter is...entertaining.