Feb 6, 2024 - News

What congestion? Indy's travel times most improved

Change in average travel time by car, 2021 to 2023
Data: TomTom; Map: Axios Visuals

You may have heard that Indianapolis' transit and public safety plans are all but ruining the city, but new data shows that car commutes are actually getting faster.

By the numbers: The average 6-mile trip in Indianapolis city center took 39 fewer seconds last year compared to 2021, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from new TomTom data.

  • The journey took 11 minutes and 16 seconds last year, compared to 11 minutes and 55 seconds in 2021.

The big picture: Car commutes have largely gotten slower across America since the mid-pandemic era — likely a reflection of increased traffic as more people head back to the office at least some of the time.

  • While corporate leaders' efforts to get employees back at their desks full-time have mostly fizzled, the heyday of the work-from-home era is no doubt behind us.
  • The result: More car traffic, as the rush-hour rat race continues.

Yes, but: Indianapolis traffic was the most improved of all 80 American cities that TomTom analyzed.

Zoom in: That traffic has been the subject of much debate at the Indiana Statehouse where lawmakers look poised to kill the Blue Line, IndyGo's latest rapid transit project.

  • Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) said his bill to put a one-year moratorium on new dedicated travel lanes — a key part of IndyGo's rapid transit plan, as seen in the Red Line that opened in late 2019 and the under-construction Purple Line — has support in the House.
  • It's already passed the Senate.

What they're saying: "The citizens of Indianapolis do not deserve dedicated lanes that are going to so screw up their travel it's going to almost force people to ride a bus in Indianapolis," Freeman said about his bill. "That is not where we are. That is not where we should be ... We should fight back against it and only do shared lanes."

Zoom out: Traffic slowed most significantly in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston between 2021-2023, based on the average time spent traveling 6 miles in their respective city centers — no shock to anybody who's ever driven in any of the three.

  • In D.C., that 6-mile trip took 97 seconds longer last year compared to 2021; in New York it took 87 seconds longer; and in Boston it took 86 seconds longer.
  • Traffic improved in a handful of other cities, too: Grand Rapids, Michigan (-29 seconds); and Orlando, Florida (-20 seconds).
  • See TomTom's full 2023 traffic index here.

The bottom line: Three things are certain in life: Death, taxes and rush-hour traffic.

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