by Thomas P. Healy
The decade-long effort to improve public transit continues as IndyGo steadily implements elements of the Marion County Transit Plan. Construction is underway in Broad Ripple on IndyGo’s new charging facility on the site of the former Key Bank, 6410 N. College Avenue.
IndyGo acquired the property in late 2020 to install in-ground induction charging units that will allow operators to “top-off” bus batteries that have not been performing as well as expected. Bus manufacturer BYD has agreed to pay for wireless charging infrastructure installation.
According to IndyGo, the location near the Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) terminus at 66th Street will help ensure adherence to schedules and reduced down time. The site can accommodate up to three buses, but IndyGo reports that there likely will be no more than two rapid transit vehicles using the facility at any given time. The facility will also allow coach operators an opportunity to take bathroom breaks.
There will be no IndyGo customer service or pass sales at the facility though IndyGo has expressed interest in seeking a low-traffic tenant for the additional commercial space who can operate within the site’s parking limitations.
During community outreach sessions last autumn, IndyGo staff acknowledged community concerns about pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Staff promised to monitor traffic at the intersection of 64th and College and work with the Department of Public Works to determine if and when traffic signal changes are warranted.
TRIP PLANNING AND FARE UPGRADES
Meanwhile, IndyGo has launched My Key, a new fare system that allows riders to pay their fare using a mobile QR code or reloadable tap card. The upgrade was made possible thanks to a $400,000 Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) grant through its Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative.
At the time of the announcement, IndyGo president and CEO Inez Evans said, “The funds awarded through this grant will be used to facilitate IndyGo’s efforts to increase mobility options in Indianapolis. Mobility is about more than traditional fixed route service, and IndyGo is committed to seeking innovative ways of providing transportation and mobility services, and this grant will help us to do just that.”
The multi-channel payment and trip-planning platform will support multiple modes and providers. Ticket vending machines have been upgraded at the Carson Transit Center and at Red Line stations. Paper fare passes will continue to be accepted. Riders may still purchase paper fare passes at the Carson Transit Center, onboard local buses, and at partner locations or they order paper passes online or over the phone.
Recently, IndyGo has been hosting public conversations to develop ideas for shaping future paratransit service outside of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-mandated service area. IndyGo currently operates ADA-level service countywide, which presents a financial and operational challenge to the agency.
The public input sessions follow a July 2020 decision by IndyGo’s Board of Directors that directed staff to develop and implement a public involvement process in response to the agency’s Paratransit Operational Analysis (POA). The analysis was commissioned in summer 2019 in response to on-time performance and service challenges. The POA recommended that IndyGo review and modify its service area to ensure stable productivity and on-time performance for the ADA area.
The IndyGo Board of Directors and leadership are committed to maintaining county-wide service and prepared to take the necessary time to collaborate with and educate the public before implementing any service changes. Those interested in learning more or registering to attend one of the public input meetings should visit indygo.net/beyondADA.
Since receiving FTA Capital Investment Grants totaling $77.5M from the Trump administration, IndyGo has been working diligently on planning for the next BRT line. The 15.2-mile Purple Line will link downtown Indianapolis and downtown Lawrence. Midtown portions of the route along the 38th Street and Meridian corridors will provide residents with some of the most frequent rapid transit service in the state.
Public outreach meetings throughout 2020 included a corridor advisory committee that was established to help solicit feedback from affected neighborhoods. Last summer, the Indianapolis City-County Council and the City of Lawrence approved ordinance language that support infrastructure repairs to the 38th Street corridor, allow for new bus-only lanes and required turn restrictions.
According to IndyGo, 50% of the Purple Line budget will support infrastructure enhancements: new traffic signals, sidewalks, drainage, ADA-compliant curb ramps, and a multi-use path.
“Advancing the Purple Line project is a great step in our plan to increase service and invest in the 38th Street corridor infrastructure and job market,” IndyGo’s Evans said when the FTA grant award was announced last summer.
The Purple Line project has reached 100% design completion and two subcontractor meetings were held in February and March in anticipation of construction that is slated to begin in summer.
All of that planning and public outreach was jeopardized by legislation introduced during the most recent Indiana General Assembly session. According to the SB 141’s supporters, the legislation is an attempt to hold IndyGo “accountable.”
According to the non-partisan State Legislative Services Agency’s Fiscal Impact Statement, “The bill has the potential to impact FTA funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. About $77.5 M currently allocated to the Purple Line project could be impacted.”
IndyGo says it is moving forward with Purple Line and Blue Line planning.