Green Rapid Transit Line


The current study activity includes the evaluation of several alternative routes, modes of transportation, and features for implementing rapid transit service along the Green Line. These studies will provide the details of why a particular alternative is selected for advancement through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding process. Documentation of the alternatives will be provided in the environmental documents that are required if federal funds are to be used for any stage of project development.

There are three key components for defining alternatives:

  • Alignment: Preliminary analysis of conceptual alternatives identified the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (HHPA) Railroad primary right-of-way for all of the build alternatives. The northernmost point of the study area is downtown Noblesville. The actual northern termination point for the initial system will be determined during this study. At the southern end, all alternatives will terminate in downtown Indianapolis at a location that will also be determined during the course of the study.
  • Service: A range of schedules, areas served, service options, frequency of service, etc., will be evaluated to identify the transit service strategy that best meets project goals and objectives. Service frequency, vehicle capacity, station locations and route terminals will be further refined and finalized as more information becomes available on travel patterns and other corridor characteristics during the alternative evaluation process.
  • Vehicle: There are two types of rapid transit vehicles being considered along this alignment - light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT).


The alternatives analysis process involves multiple stages of development, evaluation and refinement. The following three stages briefly summarize the process used to analyze the alternatives being considered for the Green Rapid Transit Line.

Conceptual Alternative

A conceptual alternative is a broadly defined transit strategy that is evaluated from a regional transportation perspective. Typically, a conceptual alternative defines the following details:

  • Project corridor;
  • General transit vehicle type; and
  • Approximate ranges of transit service level.

A conceptual alternative usually includes consideration of general concerns such as ranges of costs, ridership potential, likely cost-effectiveness, and financial feasibility.

Detailed Alternative

As additional technical details are determined, conceptual alternatives become detailed alternatives. Detailed alternatives are the initial point at which each of the technical disciplines has enough information to begin the engineering analyses necessary to understand specific benefits and impacts of a transit alternative. Typically, a detailed alternative defines the following:

  • Typical cross-sections of fixed guideways;
  • Horizontal and vertical alignments;
  • Transit station location options and layouts; and
  • Transit service operating plan.

A number of policy, institutional, and financial strategies are also addressed during analysis of detailed alternatives. This information is compiled to provide a better understanding of the costs associated with operating a detailed alternative. Ridership forecasts are also prepared using a regional travel demand model to help to quantify benefits.

Locally Preferred Alternative

The Locally Preferred Alternative, or LPA, is the detailed alternative selected by the local jurisdiction, which in this case is the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization that best meets the corridor’s long-term transportation needs. The LPA may be further refined in order to better identify its benefits, impacts and costs. If the Federal Transit Administration believes the LPA has merit, it will approve the project to advance into preliminary engineering following the completion of environmental studies.

The Locally Preferred Alternative will be identified in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.


There are four technology alternatives being considered along the Green Rapid Transit Line, three of which involve new fixed-guideway transit service.  The four alternatives under consideration are:

Light Rail Transit

In this alternative, smaller diesel-powered multiple unit light rail vehicles would be placed on improved tracks located within the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority railroad right-of-way between Noblesville and 10th Street in Indianapolis. From there, the light rail would follow the existing CSX alignment through downtown Indianapolis to Union Station. Since these vehicles do not meet Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requirements for crash worthiness they will need to be separated from freight trains. Options include parallel track for exclusive transit use, shared track with schedule separations, or routing of freight trains to an alternative through route.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

This alternative consists of replacing the existing railroad tracks with a dedicated busway  in the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority railroad right-of-way between Noblesville and 10th Street in Indianapolis. From there, the BRT would continue to the Downtown Transit Center via a dedicated busway or by sharing existing traffic lanes.


This alternative uses diesel multiple units on improved tracks in the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (HHPA) railroad right-of-way between Noblesville and 10th Street in Indianapolis. From there, the CSX Railroad right-of-way would be used to reach Union Station. Vehicles in this alternative must meet crash worthiness requirements established by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for operation on freight rail lines. 

No Build

In this alternative, a branded bus service would mix with traffic along I-69, Binford Boulevard and Fall Creek Parkway before moving into Downtown Indianapolis. This alternative is a required element in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. 

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