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Trip Report


The Clarian Health People Mover
Indianapolis, Indiana

April 27, 2004

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The People Mover
The People Mover

My wife and I recently traveled to Indianapolis so that she could attend a conference. Some time ago I had read about a proposal for an elevated train in the city, so I searched the internet to see what I could find. I discovered that the Clarian Health People Mover had been put into operation in 2003. It connects Indiana University Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children with Methodist Hospital. It is mainly for patients and workers but it is open to the public.

We stayed at the Adams Mark hotel near the airport. While my wife was at the conference, I decided to see if I could find the People Mover. I used the on-line map and a AAA map of the city to help me locate it. The AAA map wasn't detailed enough and the on-line map wasn't comprehensive enough for me to be exactly sure where it was. But I figured since it was elevated if I just got to the vicinity I would surely be able to see it.

I decided to use the city bus system to get to the hospitals as I am not real familiar with Indianapolis and find it tough to drive and read a map at the same time. Plus, I have gotten to the point where I like driving in traffic less and less and like riding trains and busses more and more. The Indianapolis bus system is named IndyGo and like many city bus systems, seems a bit convoluted but usable. The weather was cool (about 40 F) but sunny and pleasant when I got on to bus 9 in front of the hotel after about a ten minute wait. It wound around the area east of I-465 and south and north of Airport Parkway, finally traveling to the airport. At the airport, I waited just a few minutes for bus 8 which would take me downtown. Downtown, I could have taken either 5 or 10 to the I/Riley area but decided 10 would get me a little closer. The bus fare in Indianapolis was recently increased to $1.25. I have never read anything about transfers being available. I bought a one day pass ($3.00) which is what we generally do when in a city.

While riding bus 10 along Indiana Avenue I started looking north for the concrete structure that the train runs upon. I briefly saw something that looked new, looked like it was made of concrete, and didn't look like a bridge. At two more cross streets I could see it again and decided this must be the People Mover.

Concourses Inside a Concourse
Concourses Inside a Concourse

When the bus turned off of Indiana Avenue it went under the elevated track. I got off at the first stop and walked a block south then west following the track. When I got to what looked like a station, I could see a windowed tower with stairs going up. The street there was closed to traffic due to construction. I thought this tower would be the most direct route so I headed for it. Unfortunately my plan was unsuccessful as the door in the base of the tower was locked. I don't know if this is normal or was just because of the construction. I decided later that I probably wasn't even supposed to be in that area because of the construction. At that point I headed for the nearest building which has one of the two connecting concourses to the station. I skirted some wet concrete and finally found a way to get inside of the building. I took the elevator to get to the second floor. I couldn't see the concourse when I got off the elevator but I wound around inside the building going in the general direction of the concourse and finally found it. I did not see any signs directing me to the People Mover except for a paper sign on the door to the concourse. If you go, probably the easiest way to find it is to go to the Ruth Lilly Medical Library then go up one flight. The elevators are west of the library and also west of the concourse.

South Station and Track South Station At South Station
South Station and Track South Station At South Station

The concourses are glassed in and the station waiting area is quite large and also glassy. There are two trains consisting of three cars each. It appears to be totally automated. It is touted as "the only privately funded system in the nation that runs over public streets". There are presently two stations, one at each terminus and there is one more which will be opened when the buildings in that area that are under construction are finished.

Each car has eight rubber-tired wheels. Four run on top of the track and four along the sides. Each car has two bench seats, one at each end and a large open area in the middle. Apparently it is designed for most of the people to stand during the ride. As there were not very many people on the train at the time of day that I was riding, I was able to sit for each trip (I made two round trips).

Canal Walk Curve Coming Out of North Station Under I-65
Canal Walk Curve Coming Out of North Station Under I-65

There are automated voice messages that tell you to wait for the doors to open, etc. The train moves fairly slowly and (of course) being elevated gives a good view of the surrounding area. The ride is not as smooth as I had expected. It seemed to me that the track is not perfectly smooth possibly because of small misalignments between the concrete sections. The track has a number of curves and also dips to go below I-65 then returns to approximately the second floor level. There are nice views to the southeast and to the south of downtown Indianapolis and an especially nice view of Canal Walk (Central Canal). If you are ever in downtown Indianapolis I recommend seeing this area. A walk has been constructed on both sides of the canal. There are a number of attractions along the canal such as NCAA Hall of Champions, the Indiana State Museum with an IMAX theater, and the U.S.S. Indianapolis and Congressional Medal of Honor memorials. There is also some information here. Canal Walk connects to White River State Park which I believe is the only state park in Indiana that is located in the heart of a city.

Curve and Rise South of I-65 Near South Station
Curve and Rise South of I-65 Near South Station

On my first trip, a woman riding on the train told me that the train is shut down when it is icy or in high winds. Hopefully these are problems that can be corrected. I found out that there are plates (called flags) where the track curves to sense if there is a problem. At least one of these would frequently shut the train down until it was correctly adjusted. There was a person riding the train on each trip that I took and I assumed that she was there to provide security and help with questions. I have to admit, I was enjoying the ride so much that I did not make a note of the time but I would estimate that a one-way trip took about 5 - 7 minutes. The web site for the People Mover says it is 1.4 miles in length.

After riding the train I made my way back outside where I took a few more pictures. I discovered that I had missed bus 10 by less than five minutes so I decided to walk to Indiana Avenue to catch 5 which came a few minutes sooner. I also soon discovered that even though the temperature might have risen a few degrees, the day was now mostly overcast with a wind blowing. It was cold waiting the twenty minutes for the bus. By the time I got downtown, I decided to forgo visiting Canal Walk and White River Gardens which I had planned to do.

It was an enjoyable ride, certainly not as exciting as riding the California Zephyr through the Rockies, but a fun thing to do if you are in Indianapolis.

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