The Clarian Health People Mover

September 27, 2010 9 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at a privately funded mass transit system that went from concept to completion in two years. The Indianapolis Clarian Health People Mover.

About the Clarian Health People Mover

The Clarian Health People Mover or Clarian People Mover is 1.4-mile long people mover in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, in the United States. The system opened on June 28, 2003 to connect the Methodist Hospital of Indianapolis, Indiana University Hospital and the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children, jointly operated as a single hospital by Clarian Health.

The dual-track system is open to the public and operates around the clock, taking 5 minutes in each direction. During the daytime, a train departs automatically every six minutes. It is notable for being the only private transportation system in the United States constructed to run above public streets.


In 1997, the three hospital operations were combined under Indiana law creating a shared-staff of over 10,000 employees who could be required to travel between the campuses. Commuting between the three sites was complicated and required the crossing of the Interstate 65 highway by shuttle buses.

In May 2000, a Health Care Transportation System Franchise Agreement was signed, followed by the People Mover – State of Indiana Airspace Agreement and Lease in November 2000 to allow crossing under the Interstate 65 highway for a period of 25 years.


The system was constructed by Schwager Davis Inc. (SDI) from San Jose, California to their Unitrak standard.

There are two separate parallel elevated guideways side-by-side, both of which operate in both directions. The concrete rails have a gap between them, designed to combat winter snow and the people mover is therefore not technically a monorail.

Each of the two tracks carries a train with three carriages for a total capacity of 81 passengers. Each train weighs 45,000 pounds and has twenty-four passenger seats across the three cars. The rest of the passenger capacity is made up of standing places.


During the night-time, one track is closed between 22:00–05:30 for maintenance, with the second train/track operated in on-demand mode by elevator-style call buttons.


The trains run automatically during the work day (5:30AM - 10PM) to handle greater travel demand, departing every six minutes.  Overnight (10PM-5:30AM), they operate on an "on-call" basis.

SDI anticipates the system's life span to be 30 years and its annual operating budget approximately $1,000,000.

Budget Breakdown

Clarian Health Partners invested $40 million into its people mover system, including discretionary funds earmarked for community improvements and station enhancements.  Here is how the total budget breaks down:

39% - Stations, walkways, connectors, & maintenance facility

21% - Guideway structure

16% - Train, control, communication and power distribution technology

10% - Site improvements, utility relocations and traffic control

9% - General conditions and professional services

5% - Pneumatic tubing installation - not APM-system related


The Benefits of the Clarian Health People Mover

For the transportation industry, it is a one-of-a-kind achievement: the nation's first privately-funded elevated transit system to operate over public right-of-way.

For its owner, Clarian Health Partners, it is an innovative solution to the problem of moving physicians, medical staff and equipment among three hospitals without the personal inconvenience and loss of productivity associated with urban traffic congestion.

For its city, it serves as both a focus of civic pride and a symbol of continuing progress, spurring economic development while also helping to improve air quality and revitalize neighborhoods.

The Clarian Health People Mover's Canal Station anchors the north end of Canal Walk.  A number of medical, educational, dining, recreational and residential facilities are now centered around this station.

A Lesson for Jacksonville

The Clarian Health People Mover is the same mass transit technology as the Jacksonville Skyway.  However, this privately funded people mover was constructed for $45 million less and operates 24 hours/7 days a week with a $1 million annual budget.  In addition, walkable mixed-use development has taken place around its central station offering Indianapolis' healthcare industry the option of urban living, working and playing without the everyday use of the car.  The Clarian Health People Mover illustrates how fixed mass transit can be implemented relatively inexpensively and when properly integrated with land use regulations, it can spur complementing pedestrian friendly transit oriented development.

Photographs by Ennis Davis