Getting from A to B in Indianapolis is simple and fairly painless. Although the city has no subway rail system (trains do pass through Indianapolis, but they’re mostly geared towards interstate travel), the IndyGo is an affordable, user-friendly and super efficient bus system that services most of the city with both regular buses and rapid transit electric buses. Apart from buses, Indianapolis residents travel by foot, car, bikes, dockless electric scooters, taxis and ride-hailing services. It’s important for new arrivals to do the necessary research on public transportation options before arriving in the city in order to determine the most suitable choice for their location, mobility, and budget.
Public transport in Indianapolis
The most common way of getting around Indianapolis is by bus. The IndyGo offers more than 30 fixed routes that criss-cross the city, including the Red Line rapid transit electric buses which traverse a 13-mile north/south route from Broad Ripple through downtown to the University of Indianapolis campus.
To board an IndyGo bus, one will need exact change for a single two-hour ride (including transfers); or one could purchase one-day- or seven-day bus passes; or, to avoid the admin of acquiring bus passes or dealing with change, one could get MyKey, a tap-and-go reloadable card purchasable at any ticket-vending machine (MyKey is also available as a downloadable app for digital access).
In a push to encourage bicycle commuting, the city now offers over 50 convenient bicycle stations and hundreds of bicycles as part of a grab-and-go system. Riders either purchase an annual pass that allows for unlimited 30-minute rentals, or they pay a minimal fee per ride. Passes or one-off rides can be acquired at any bikeshare station kiosk or via the Pacers Bikeshare app. Riders may pick up and drop off bicycles at any Pacers dock space, and the service is available all day, every day.
Similarly, one can also make use of dockless scooters. Newcomers to the city will find these useful for short local commutes, or to cover the short distances between IndyGo stops. To rent one of these, riders must download an app first (Lime, Bird, and Spin all currently operate in Indianapolis), and then scan a QR code to unlock a vehicle. Rides are usually calculated by time of use, until the rider stops the timer via the app.
Users may only ride on streets and in bike lanes, but never on sidewalks, and must ensure that they never park in restricted areas or block sidewalk ramps, private driveways, or parking spaces, as they will be liable to a fine.
Driving in Indianapolis
Even though Indianapolis is quite easily navigable by public transport and ride-hailing services, new arrivals and expats may feel more comfortable with their own set of wheels, particularly if their commutes are over longer distances.
To be able to drive in Indianapolis, expats must have a valid driver’s licence. They’re allowed to drive legally for one year using a valid driver’s licence from their home country together with an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). If expats intend to stay in Indianapolis for longer than six months, or mean to purchase a vehicle, they will have to acquire an Indiana driver’s licence. Note that International Driver’s Permits aren’t issued in the US to nonresidents, so will have to be obtained in one’s home country before travelling to Indianapolis.
After purchasing a new or second-hand vehicle, drivers in Indianapolis – or anywhere in the US – are required to have their licence, car registration, and proof of vehicle insurance with them at all times when using the road.
Ride-hailing services in Indianapolis
Taxis are available throughout Indianapolis: one can flag these down, but it’s recommended to phone and book taxis in advance. The city also has a bevy of digital ride-hailing services including Uber and Lyft (download the apps for these and follow a few easy steps to set up an account), and one could also arrange shuttle buses and limo services for private rides or carpools.
Walking in Indianapolis
Residents of Indianapolis enjoy exploring the city on foot, particularly the downtown area, which is dotted with restaurants, bars and other gems that are often only noticed when walking. If new arrivals are able to find a new home within the confines of downtown and happen to secure employment in downtown too, they are often able to walk to the office, perhaps just with a quick bus transfer in between. The city is generally safe for walking (be vigilant after dark), and has a bouquet of lovely parks and fields for running, dog walking, or just to breathe in a bit of fresh air.