After 15 months of construction, news and debate, IndyGo Red Line will open Sept. 1. The bus rapid transit route, which cost $96.3 million, will connect the University of Indianapolis to Broad Ripple via downtown.
Estella Perkins, a frequent bus rider, is a transit ambassador, or a trained volunteer who informs IndyGo riders about public transit. She loves visiting Broad Ripple to walk the Monon Trail, sit by the canal and eat ice cream at Brics. She believes the Red Line will make the trip quicker and easier than the normal bus route. After hearing about delays to the Red Line, Perkins was pleasantly surprised to hear the grand opening date is next month.
“I felt excited and surprised,” Perkins said. “… It’s going to be big across Indianapolis.”
The Red Line will be 13 miles long with 27 stops in both commercial and residential areas. To board the Red Line, riders should go to one of the stops on the route. Those who do not live within walking distance of the Red Line must either drive and find parking near a stop or connect to the Red Line via a different bus route. IndyGo doesn’t offer a park and ride option.
IndyGo updated existing bus routes to coincide with the Red Line. For example, the Red Line will replace routes 17 and 22. In addition, route 39 now turns at 38th Street and Central Avenue, travels south on Central Avenue until it turns back to its normal route at Meridian Street. IndyGo’s website has a full list of changes.
In the Red Line, 60% of the route will have a lane just for buses. Cars driving and parking in the dedicated bus lane will be ticketed and possibly towed.
“Because of dedicated lanes, the vehicles can travel between each of the stops more quickly than before,” Lauren Day, IndyGo’s director of public relations, said. “Not because buses travel faster than the speed limit but because traffic isn’t sharing the same lane.”
IndyGo will also introduce 14 new, environmentally friendly electric buses for the Red Line. Perkins, who rode the vehicles in an IndyGo Red Line simulation, said the buses offer phone charging stations, free Wi-Fi and monitors informing passengers of the next stop. Perkins’ favorite update is not the buses but the new stops. As a 70-year-old, she appreciates how the stops have ramps that are at the same height as the first step of the bus, making access easier for the elderly or those with mobility issues.
The dedicated bus lanes and number of buses will decrease wait times at Red Line bus stops. Mark Fisher, board member of IndyGo and chief policy officer of the Indy Chamber, said some stops regularly had hour wait times between buses. Now buses will arrive at stops every 10 to 15 minutes, with the exception of every 20 minutes Sunday evenings.
“That 15-minute mark is important,” Fisher said. “That’s when you stop scheduling your life around transit. You’re not afraid of missing the bus because it’ll be another hour.”
Fisher believes not worrying about waiting an hour for the next bus makes the system more reliable, making commuters to work or school more likely to use it. Riding the bus also can be cheaper than driving, costing $1.75 for a trip or $4 for a day pass, so Fisher believes those without cars will have more access to jobs and schools farther away from their home. In addition, people with cars who do not want to deal with parking and traffic may become more willing to take more jobs in the city because they can use mass transit.
“Transit becomes a mechanism to allow people to access a wider job market and make sure employers have access to a wider workforce,” Fisher said.
As part of the opening, all Red Line bus rides will be free in September. Day said IndyGo is offering free rides to encourage former riders and those who have never used public transit to give it a try. People can become familiar with the route, how the buses operate and how to best use the Red Line in their everyday life for free.
“It was important to give a month to help people realize what the new route means to them and give others the opportunity to celebrate and really understand this new service,” Day said.
The Red Line is the first of three bus rapid transit lines IndyGo will implement. In 2020, IndyGo will introduce the Purple Line, which will connect Indianapolis and Lawrence. The final line will be the Blue Line, which will go from Cumberland to the airport and will open in late 2023 or early 2024.
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.
Red Line Schedule
Starting Sept. 1, the Red Line will offer rides at the following times:
Monday through Friday
Every 10 minutes 5 a.m.-9 p.m.
Every 15 minutes 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Every 15 minutes 6 a.m. Saturday-1 a.m. Sunday
Every 15 minutes 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Every 20 minutes 8-10 p.m.
Celebrate the grand opening
To celebrate the Red Line’s opening, IndyGo will host a celebration with coffee, doughnuts, remarks from local politicians and live music.
When: 7:30-9 a.m. Sept. 3
Where: The Indiana Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St.
Public meetings for neighborhood input
IndyGo will host two sessions where Martindale-Brightwood residents can offer suggestions for improvement. The first meeting with an IndyGo board member and chief operating officer, will be 6:45 p.m. Sept. 10 at 37th Place Community Center, 2605 E. 25th St. The second with IndyGo CEO and vice president of communications and will be 7:15 p.m. Sept. 16 at Original Church of God, 2150 N. Capitol Ave.
Want to learn more?
For more information such as updated routes, prices and how to use the Red Line, visit indygo.net/red-line.