GREENWOOD, Ind. — Community leaders in Greenwood are exploring ways to expand public transit options in an effort to keep up with steady growth south of Indianapolis.

While large employers along I-65 like Amazon, FedEx and others have hired thousands of Hoosiers in the last couple years, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said there is a persistent problem.

“They do have a constant turnover problem because of lack of transportation,” Myers said. “A lot of their employees, they have don’t have dependable transportation. They depend upon other people, they depend upon carpooling.”

A recent year-long study from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO, found that riders were pleased with transportation services offered by Access Johnson County. The study also found that riders would like Access Johnson County to add more routes and service hours, including weekends.

“We’ve done a number of these studies in different suburban communities where people are trying to get to work one way or the other,” said MPO Deputy Director Sean Northup. “And it’s all driven by the amount of funding that’s available and the number of drivers they can get.”

Access Johnson County bus driver Sally McCarter said she often encounters riders who are trying to get to a new job but do not have their own way to get there. Recently, she said she picked up a man who said his first shift was Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Saturday at 6:00 a.m.  

“He said ‘I guess I’ll have to Uber, but that’s going to cost me an awful lot of money,’ and I said ‘it sure is’,” McCarter said.

In order to help more employees get to work, especially along the I-65 corridor, Myers said he would like to start discussions with property owners along I-65 about adding more bus services to their facilities. By working with the city to establish new Economic Improvement Districts, new bus routes to the facilities could be funded through a property tax increase approved by the majority of the business property owners and individual taxpayers in the area would not be affected.

Such employee shuttle services are currently being used in Plainfield and Whitestown as a way to connect residents to their jobs at larger employers.

“I think that if we can get all of the property owners together out there to agree on this, that it would be a great thing for that area,” Myers said.

“Employers getting access to employees is the thing that’s probably most urgent and has the least barriers to get to some kind of dedicated funding,” Northup said.

Although discussions have yet to begin, Myers said he would like to have some kind of plan put together in the next six months.

For other areas, the MPO transit study also showed there is interest among community leaders and stakeholders in extending the IndyGo Red Line as far south as Whiteland and Franklin. However, such a move would require voters in Greenwood’s Pleasant Township to approve an income tax increase, and it’s not clear when that matter could appear on a ballot for a referendum vote.

“There were strong feelings both ways about that,” Northup said. “It’s really going to end up being up to the township and the communities, how they want to move forward with these recommendations.”