By Rick Hinton
The countdown is upon us as IndyGo’s Red Line quickly approaches as the first week of September looms upon the horizon. After 15 months of construction residents will now realize transit alternatives as a viable option, providing improved travel times while decreasing wait times.
Traveling from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis, the 13-mile, 28-stop Red Line was a $96.5 million project, yet only Stage One of several rollouts will occur over the next few years. A new fleet of 60-foot-long electric buses – quiet, environmentally friendly and with doors opening on both sides of the bus – have a range of 275 miles between charging. Complete with bicycle racks, Wi-Fi and USB chargers, the buses offer 50 seats and additional standing capacity of 40. Seven days a week, 20 hours each day, your chariot will arrive at each designated station – generally ¼ to ½ mile apart – every 10-20 minutes.
Each of the 28 rapid-transit stations are placed within the street median with ticket-vending machines, digital marquee, covered seating, lighting and step-free access to and from the platforms. As drivers navigate changed lane configurations and adjusted traffic behavior, a troop of volunteers will be on hand opening week to explain the system and show riders how to use the ticket sales kiosks. Related changes will be improvements, adjustments, or elimination to existing local routes. The Red Line will be free through September. All IndyGo buses will also be free the first two weeks of September.
The Red Line will in the future be joined by the 14.8-mile Purple Line (downtown Indianapolis to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence) beginning construction in 2021 and the 20-mile Blue Line (Cumberland to the Indianapolis International Airport) beginning construction in 2023. The complete Red Line corridor will eventually extend north to Westfield and south to Greenwood when officials in Hamilton and Johnson counties approve local funding.
Service begins Sunday, Sept. 1, followed by a celebration of community leaders, Indy Go representatives, Red Line contractors and the public Tuesday, Sept. 3. Festivities will include live music, free coffee and donuts.
“I hope our citizens use the service and that it proves worthy of the significant investment,” said Jefferson Shreve, City Councilor for District 16 (Center, Perry and Wayne Townships). “Most of the funding came from Federal sources, but it’s consumed a lot of tax dollars. We’ve built it. Will they come?”
Infrastructure modifications (and the headaches from such) aside, Indianapolis is entering a new era in its transit history … taking our city into the future!