It’s About Time to Ride!

by Thomas P. Healy

IndyGo is ready for the Sept. 1 rollout of expanded local bus service throughout the metro area. Improvements include seven-day service on every route, enhanced weekend service, and additional evening service on weekdays.

Midtown will benefit from new bus rapid transit (BRT) service along the Red Line corridor and that means adjusting to some changes, according to Lauren Day, IndyGo’s director of public relations.

“We’re focused on educating riders and drivers,” she said. This means stressing the importance of keeping BRT bus-only lanes clear of automobile traffic and limiting left turns to signalized intersections. “It’s important to make sure that bus lanes are clear so the bus is out of traffic lanes and makes the flow safer,” she added.

Prohibitions against parking or blocking the BRT bus-only lanes or turning left across the median are enshrined in a City ordinance, she said. Violations are ticketable offenses. Day said IndyGo is working closely with IMPD to alert the public to modify driving behavior and adapt to the changes.

“The first week of September is ‘dress rehearsal’ because it’s a learning thing for us too,” she said. “We want to make sure we can deliver reliable service.”

One of the changes is what IndyGo calls “Bus Stop Balancing,” which removes local bus stops that had been closer than the desired quarter-mile spacing. “If you’re on a route that stops every block, commuting time is significantly longer,” Day said. ”It elevates the rider experience if the bus gets to move people at a more competitive time.” [see chart below.]

When the Red Line opens on Sunday, Sept. 1. there will be some adjustments made to local routes. Midtown routes 18–Broad Ripple, 19–Castleton, 38–W. 38th St., and 39–E. 38th St. will have updated routing. Routes 17 and 22 are replaced by the Red Line and will no longer be in service. Route 90–Red Line Local will add local service north of the Red Line’s north terminus at 66th Street and College Avenue. IndyGo has launched a new route planning tool for routes that will change beginning September 1.

New ticket vending machines will also be a part of expanded services designed to improve convenience and utility. In addition to purchasing tickets at BRT stations and the Downtown Transit Center, Day said IndyGo has reached an agreement with Flowbird, a provider with retail partnerships, that will also make bus tickets available at more than 400 retail locations in Marion County.

Day said a new feature is the inclusion of a two-hour free transfer with each ticket. “Riders will have plenty of time to adjust as IndyGo is making the Red Line free to anyone during the entire month of September,” Day said, adding that all IndyGo routes will be free for the first two weeks of September. Day said volunteer transit ambassadors will be at each station for the first week to help patrons adjust to the new system.

A version of this article appeared in the August/September 2019 print edition of the magazine.