Red Line Rapid Transit Coming to Indy

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Hugh Pebworth, Staff Writer

Most people are used to having to drive everywhere in Indianapolis, but within three years a new mode of transportation will arrive in the city when Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) begins operation. The IndyGo “Red Line” will serve Indianapolis as an express mass transportation solution, with the first phase of the route opening in 2018 and stretching from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis.

Once the first phase has been completed, additional phases will be built to extend the line from Westfield to Greenwood.  The BRT buses will be all electric and seek to emulate the benefits of a light rail system at a much cheaper price.  The Red Line will be the first fully electric BRT system in the United States.  

Elevated stations will be located approximately every half mile on College Avenue and Meridian Street until they reach downtown.  Stations along the line will have many amenities including wifi, covered platforms, bike racks, ticketing kiosks, and real-time information about bus arrivals.  

Buses will travel along 38th Street from College beyond Meridian to Capitol Avenue. From there the Redline will continue south until it reaches downtown. The route will run through the soon-to-be-completed Downtown Transit Center, which will open in the spring of 2016. From there, the line will continue through Fountain Square all the way to UIndy.

The Red Line will run for twenty hours a day, and buses will arrive every 10 minutes.  According to IndyGo’s Redline website, the line will provide service to over 137,000 jobs, cultural districts including Broad Ripple and Fountain Square, and downtown hospitals. This line runs through many former “streetcar suburbs,” which are neighborhoods that arose early in the twentieth century along the city’s then-popular streetcar lines, so the new line is expected to fit right into the neighborhoods it travels through.

The construction of the line will bring new changes to the streets it will run on.  Limitations will be placed on left turns and parking along Meridian and College, but there will be construction of protected left-turn only lights that will allow for legal U-turns. The buses will operate in two special middle lanes which will reduce Meridian and College to one lane moving in each direction.

IndyGo claims that the Red Line will result in a 25% reduction of parking and traffic capacity on College Avenue but expects the line to have little impact on the traffic alongside it.  There will be an average increase of traffic along parallel streets that will amount to about one extra car every half minute. Officials project an average daily ridership of 11,000 people, and rides will start at $1.75.

Brebeuf students are mixed on the practicality and effectiveness of the line. Sophomore Aidan Vare, a resident of the Meridian Kessler neighborhood, which sits next to the proposed line, said, “I think the Red Line will narrow the streets too much, and I wouldn’t want to ride it because I think that driving would be just as easy and wouldn’t be as much of a hassle.”  

Julian Boes ‘18, who also  lives in Meridian Kessler, said that while he would ride the Red Line in the future, “It will make Meridian and College too narrow as they are both already busy enough, especially during rush hour.”

Change is coming to Indy’s public transportation system, and residents of Indianapolis will see the action unfold in the very near future.  Construction will begin in 2017 and in just three years citizens will be able to hop aboard as the Red Line begins to connect them to their destinations in other parts of Indianapolis.