Riders flock to Red Line in first days as IndyGo works on glitches

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Red Line
Passengers board the Red Line at the Julia M. Carson Transit Center on Sept. 3, 2019. (IBJ photo/Lesley Weidenbener)

As it works through the Red Line’s expected early-days hiccups, IndyGo says it’s pleased with rider response so far to the city’s first bus-rapid-transit line.

Service launched Sunday on the 13.1-mile line, which runs between College Avenue at 66th Street and the University of Indianapolis at Hannah Avenue.

According to preliminary numbers, riders took 8,200 trips on the Red Line on Sunday, said IndyGo spokesman Bryan Luellen.

In comparison, before the launch of the Red Line and associated system-wide improvements this past weekend, average Sunday ridership for the entire IndyGo system was about 6,500, Luellen said.

And IndyGo projects that daily Red Line ridership will be about 11,000 at the end of the first year of service, according to a model developed by the Federal Transit Administration.

“The biggest surprise was how many people were on the [Red Line] buses all day long,” Luellen said of Sunday’s ridership. “It’s really demonstrating that there is a fantastic demand for this service.”

Many of the riders on Sunday and Monday were new to the bus system and trying out the service. Some made a trip on the bus a family outing. Others took advantage of the holiday to plan their routes for the work week.

A look at the MyStop mobile app at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday showed buses were more evenly spread throughout the Red Line route than they had been Sunday when the route launched.

The Red Line offers buses that arrive more frequently, stops spaced farther apart than on traditional routes, dedicated bus lanes along much of the route, traffic-signal priority for buses, and other features meant to improve the speed and reliability of service.

Because IndyGo is still working through the implementation of new technology, Luellen said, the system doesn’t yet have access to ridership estimates from Monday or from Tuesday morning.  Likewise, it’s too early to say whether certain segments of the Red Line or certain times of day will carry more riders than others, he said.

“Frankly, we haven’t had any time for analysis yet,” Luellen said.

Over the weekend, riders reported that some Red Line buses were completely full. According to live data from IndyGo’s new MyStop app, as of late morning on Tuesday some Red Line buses had more than 25 riders on board while other buses were empty.

The roll-out has not been glitch-free. IndyGo has already had to adjust scheduling to deal with spacing issues—Red Line buses were clumping up along certain parts of the route rather than remaining evenly spaced.

The revamped schedule rolled out on Tuesday and seems to be working as intended, Luellen said. “Today is the first day of a new schedule, and we’re already seeing better spacing.”

For now, the electric buses are also taking scheduled breaks to return to IndyGo’s headquarters for brief recharging sessions, Luellen said. In-route charging stations will be installed within the next several months.

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9 thoughts on “Riders flock to Red Line in first days as IndyGo works on glitches

  1. Hopefully the glitches will be worked out. I parked at the Subway sandwich shop parking lot yesterday and 22nd and Meridian just for analysis. At around 5 PM the spacing between two SB buses was one hour and nine minutes. During that time there were 6 NB buses. The next SB bus was about 10 minutes after the one hour and nine minute wait for the prior SB bus.

  2. Monitors at the stops are up too high and the font is too small. Short people and those with bad eyesight aren’t able to read them. Screens need to be bigger and/ or lower and font needs to be larger. Also in the bus several times I heard the voice on speaker say , “stop requested” or words to that effect. I thought the bus is to stop only at the newly built stations and without any request.

    1. The “stop requested” is for the upcoming station (alerting the driver who, if he/she sees no riders at that station could simply choose to continue on thru it). It is not used to make stops between stations.

  3. Wow! It was obvious that Indy folk came out I’m droves on Sunday, but those numbers are astounding! It’s wonderful to see such enthusiasm in Indy for the Red Line.
    I was there, packed in with the crowd. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood, excited, and friendly. I rode to lunch in Broad Ripple, and it looked liked the restaurants there were having a windfall from all the Red Line travelers.
    Congrats IndyGo and Indianapolis!

    1. LOL. Buses are now legally allowed to go in each direction on Capitol Street, while cars and trucks are still restricted to southbound only. Regardless, Drivers Ed courses taught us to look BOTH ways before entering traffic lanes.

  4. rode the Red Line on Labor Day! bus was full and ride was smooth as glass, I was downtown in no time! coming back was great, got to 66th and College, walked across the street to the #90 extension bus and on up to the Nora area! I will be using this all the time now instead of hassling with traffic to get to the Roudebush VA Med Center. #86 from Nora to College; #90 extension to RL station at 66th; RL to Capitol/Vermont station, walk to Ohio, board #10 out to the VA medical center. PIECE OF CAKE!

  5. I did my experimenting with the red line today I live near Irvington and it took my almost exactly 1 hour to get to broad ripple (including 10-15 mins to figure out what to do at the transit transfer station). I think that’s acceptable. It was pretty crowded with people that just wanted to try it out. Once the kinks are worked out and some of the hype has died down I’ll probably be using this more frequently.