Free rides on IndyGo’s Red Line extended through end of November

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

IndyGo is extending free service on the Red Line through the end of the month because of delays in installing a new agency-wide ticketing process. It’s the second time the city’s public transportation agency has extended toll-free service.

IndyGo now plans to start collecting Red Line fares on Dec. 1, not Nov. 11 as previously announced, the transit agency said Wednesday morning.

The 13.1-mile Red Line has been free since it went into service Sept. 1. Originally, IndyGo had planned to begin collecting fares Oct. 1, but it extended the free period until Nov. 11 because of delays caused by Paris-based technology firm Flowbird Group.

IndyGo decided to extend the free-fare period because the new ticket-vending machines still aren’t ready for use, said IndyGo spokesman Bryan Luellen.

The agency contracted with Flowbird to modernize its fare system, including adding a mobile payment app, reloadable fare cards, ticket-vending machines, fare enforcement and citation management.

But that system isn’t working yet, so as a temporary fix the ticket vending machines are being retrofitted with hardware and software that dispenses paper tickets, said IndyGo spokesman Bryan Luellen.

When the Red Line’s free-fare period ends, all riders will use the paper tickets, Luellen said. He could not offer an estimate as to when Flowbird will have the originally planned system up and running.

The Red Line runs between College Avenue at 66th Street and the University of Indianapolis at Hannah Avenue.

IndyGo reported that riders boarded the Red Line 230,651 times in September, an average of 7,700 boardings daily. October ridership numbers haven’t been released.

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9 thoughts on “Free rides on IndyGo’s Red Line extended through end of November

  1. Could the IBJ dig into whether or not there are clawback provisions within the contract so the city will be reimbursed if this is truly the application companies fault for not being prepared for the project?

    1. If the scheduling and fare collection systems are each capable of holding up the “live” declaration and have no dependency upon each other, then I vote for what I posted elsewhere:
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      …both vendors should be held accountable for the revenue lost until their work is approved because if either were to be incomplete and capable of preventing a “go live” declaration, they [alone] would be holding it up.
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      If IndyGo were smart and had foresight, they’d have written the penalty clauses/subsections to reflect this — but I’m guessing they’re like my example of Congress using lawyers to question witnesses for legal proceedings but presume because they’ve played Windows Solitaire they’re capable of interviewing witnesses about technology…such as the guy who can’t spell his name right (think about it) and who also has said, “younger people are just smarter”. [1]
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      For the amount of money involved (and the long-term implications & price), IndyGo could have taken a committee to query vendors AND the cities, then [all of the committee] taken a cross country whirlwind trip to [each of] the cities they considered appropriate (even if it were all of them) and spend 1 or 2 days riding & testing in/at each of the cities, querying the people who actually ride about the things those people liked, disliked, or features they wish were available, then convene & compare notes when they [all] returned, with follow-up questions via phone or Skype as needed, both to the cities’ representatives and the vendors who created the systems.
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      Just how many [other] cities’ transportation systems did IndyGo’s representatives visit?
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      One other thought: what are the long-term implications for the software of both the scheduling and fare systems? Is IndyGo beholden to the companies in question to make modifications (bug fixes & new features) or do they have complete ownership (*and* will have possession) such that they could hire anyone they want to to make modifications? (this might sound like a stupid question to some, but I’ve been around long enough to have seen this go South in a hurry)
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      [1] “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.” -David Mamet

  2. Was this a surprise all of a sudden that they were going to need to have people pay? This should have been up and running on the IndyGo buses way before the rapid transit was even completed. That way the bugs could have been worked out of the application.

  3. It is like opening up a restaurant or any business with cash registers. With all the time and other cities using the same type system, they can’t figure out how to collect fares? Thought that would have been the first thing to figure out.

  4. Why do they bother reporting the number of riders? That would be similar to a new restaurant reporting the number of meals served, which would mean nothing if it turned out that they weren’t charging people for their meals.

    1. The number of riders could be very telling. Just how many riders do they anticipate it’ll take make this considered a success? If 7,000/day won’t cut it, then you have to ask why people are avoiding a free ride? Is it because it’s not “real” (and if people pay they might consider it to be [rea]); or, because they truly aren’t interested?

      I’m surprised they didn’t collect money by charging to get on board, say $1 and letting them have a seat until they reach a desired stop or until they’ve made a lap — sort of like the shuttle at the State Fair. (That’s $1/lap unless you’ve joined the Senior Citizens’ club and have a wristband to ride free.) If they grabbed “volunteers” from the staff to be collectors, it wouldn’t cost them any more and they’d at least have $7,000/day coming in.

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