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Our First Day Trying the New IndyGo Red Line, Which Sucked

Red Line Anne!

My wife Anne hanging out in the bikers’ wing because there was no room for us anywhere else aboard.

I love the idea of mass transit. I got used to buses as a wee tyke when my mom and my grandma took me on them all the time. As adults my wife and I have had positive experiences in Denver, DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Manhattan. (Baltimore was a mixed bag.) I loved the NYC subways so much after our first visit, I begged Anne to let me dig a subway tunnel connecting NYC’s MTA and our front door. My request died in committee.

Meanwhile back in Indianapolis, “mass transit” doesn’t mean quite so much. Our medium metropolis was built over the course of decades with no room allotted for subways or light rail. There’s no such thing as “hailing” a cab here — they exist but if you want one, you have to phone for one. We have a bus system called IndyGo, which is…well, it’s certainly a set of things on wheels that provides a traveling alternative under certain limited conditions. It isn’t exactly renowned. From time to time, some idealistic, would-be innovator comes to town with an idea to do a “mass transit” thing and improve quality of life for commuters and folks without cars. Nine times out of ten, those benevolent thinkers are sent packing. I’d use the old cliché “they’re run out of town on a rail”, but this would be an obvious lie due to the lack of rails to spare.

This year IndyGo and our city government conspired to introduce a new concept to our Indy road scene: Bus Rapid Transit. Per their grand vision and ubiquitous marketing boilerplate, it could change the very face of Indianapolis mass transit if their plans and dreams come true. If.

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The Bitter Little Cable Car

silver funicular, Lisbon, Portugal

Photo credit: Cheri Lucas @ Automattic

Once upon a time, there was a little cable car who lived and worked on a hill. Each day the little cable car would perform his job of carrying passengers up and down the hill. The little cable car was born for the job.

The hill was not very tall, but some people rode the little cable car anyway. Unhealthy people rode it because too much walking made them sweaty and gave them trouble breathing. Lazy people rode it because it saved them precious calories. Businesspeople rode it because it was easier to play with their phones if they didn’t have to walk at the same time. Small children rode it because they like riding in small vehicles and making vroom-vroom noises. Tourists rode it because their guidebooks said they should, or else their vacation was an utter failure. Whenever none of the above were around, the little cable car had time to himself. Being a mere cable car with nowhere else to go, he spent this time thinking to himself.

One day the little cable car thought to himself, “My job is stupid.”

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Thank-You Note to a Bus Company That Receives Precious Few

IndyGo, bus, Indianapolis
Dear IndyGo,

Honesty up front: I wish you, the providers of public bus transportation for the city of Indianapolis, weren’t the beginning, the end, and the entirety of our city’s mass transit system, to use the term loosely. It’s not that I harbor a grudge toward you; I merely wish you weren’t our only option. The nearest IndyGo stop to our house is a mile-and-half walk, only one-third of which is paved with sidewalks. As I outlined in one of my earliest entries here on MCC, I’d dearly love to see Indianapolis install subway corridors, or even a light-rail system, as our family has seen in other, superior cities during our annual road trips. Alas, I’m not holding my breath waiting for this miracle to happen. I expect no resolution in my lifetime to the unceasing political sniping over who should pay for it, whose houses should we steamroll to make it happen, and how dare we take money out of the grubby paws of Big Fossil Fuel.

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2012 Road Trip Photos #35: the Kansas Cosmosphere, Part 2 of 2: Starship Parts Catalog

As we saw in our previous installment, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, provides a good, safe home to many retired spacecraft and spacecraft understudies. Their collections are a comprehensive tribute to those pioneers and daredevils who yearn to see mankind reach beyond our spatial boundaries and discover what else lies in store for us in God’s universe.

Ad Astra per Aspera, Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

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2012 Road Trip Photos #34: the Kansas Cosmosphere, Part 1 of 2: Starship Graveyard

Once we returned from the Underground Salt Museum to the surface world, Day Eight of our nine-day journey continued on the other end of Hutchinson at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. Our family has seen space-race paraphernalia in other museums such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2003), Kennedy Space Center (2007), and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (2009), but the Cosmosphere competes in its own way, particularly with souvenirs from foreign contributors to the space race. Kansas seems like the last place on Earth you’d find a dedicated repository for cosmonaut relics, but there it was.

Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas

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2012 Road Trip Photos #31: Underground Salt Museum, Part 1 of 3: Into the Mines of Morton

We ended Day Seven with a hotel stay northwest of Wichita in Hutchinson, a city large enough to have its own dying shopping mall and not one, but two notable attractions. Thus did Day Eight commence in the heart of the Kansas heartland…at the Underground Salt Museum.

I realize the name carries an excitement level on par with a box factory or the state of Delaware, but the Salt Museum is no ordinary salt mine. Granted, yes, part of it is an ordinary salt mine, but we’d never seen one of those before, either. Could it possibly be fascinating to gander inside the workplace that provides us with one of the greatest-tasting minerals on Earth?

This rusty but imposing chainsaw-mobile says yes.

Chainsaw-Mobile, Underground Salt Museum, Hutchinson, Kansas

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