Rapid transit coming to Indianapolis?

The Red Line would initially start at 66th, travelling along College to 38th Street.

Rapid transit may come to central Indiana sooner than many people thought.   An IndyGo spokesman said if all goes as planned, construction could start on phase one of the Red Line in 2017 with rapid bus route up and running in 2018.

Next week, the transit company begins a series of public meetings to vet the plan and seek buy-in before applying for a federal transportation grant.  IndyGo spokesman Bryan Luellen said that grant would cover 80% of the roughly $60 million project.

The Red Line would initially start at 66th, travelling along College to 38th Street, over to Meridian and Capitol before making its way to Shelby down to Hannah and the University of Indianapolis campus.  The 14-mile route would include 27 stops with buses coming every 10 minutes and running from 5 a.m. - 1 a.m. See a map of the extended route.

While rapid transit has been slow to gain traction in Indianapolis,  a very car-centric city, IndyGo officials think the Red Line will draw beyond its traditional passengers.

"It's a highly upgraded service with elevated platforms every half mile, so that speeds up travel time and it operates in a dedicated lane," Luellen said, adding, "the buses actually communicate with the traffic lights so they're a priority at intersections."

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Along College, the 60-foot-long electric buses would run down the center of the road, taking up the inner north-bound lane. (Luellen said north and south-bound buses would share one lane through signal timing and line of site.)The elevated boarding stations (about 15 inches off the ground) would have pre-paid ticketing and operate like a subway, where all doors open at once allowing for quick boarding and exits.

Alexa Moran works at Fat Dan's Chicago-style Deli on College, 50 feet from one of the stops. While she's been slow to take IndyGo, she said she would likely use the Red Line and thinks others would too.

"Definitely... Broad Ripple has expanded so much and it would definitely help those who work downtown," she said. "It'd be easier to get to work instead of paying for gas and parking."

Ben Snyder, who lives in Fishers, questioned whether "Indy is large enough to support" mass transit but added he has friends in Chicago "who use transit and see the benefit."

Judith Snyder lives just a few blocks from one of the proposed stops. When she heard the Red Line would take her to IU Health Methodist where she works she said, "I would use it then, especially on snowy days, that would be great."

However, she said she was worried about "congestion" caused by the new bus lanes.

Luellen said, while the Red Line would operate "there will be a minor loss of parking and some left turn restrictions," the route would operate "almost exclusively in existing curbs."

He said "Meridian corridor" was chosen for phase one based on "market readiness, denseness and walkability.  He said it makes up 15% of current ridership.

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Public Meetings on Red Rapid Transit Project

IndyGo will host several public meetings where you can learn about the Red Rapid Transit Project, ask questions, and have your voice heard during the engineering phase. This August IndyGo representatives will be in the following locations: 

Aug. 18 - Central Library: 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
40 E St. Clair St, Indianapolis, IN 46204
IndyGo Routes 18, 38, & 39

Aug. 19 - College Avenue Branch: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
4180 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46205
IndyGo Route 17

Aug. 24 - Fountain Square Branch: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
1066 Virginia Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46203
IndyGo Routes 12, 14, & 22

Aug. 26 - Indianapolis Art Center: 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
820 E 67th St., Indianapolis, IN 46220
IndyGo Route 18

Aug. 27 - IUPUI Campus Center: 8 a.m. - 10 a.m.
420 University Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202
IndyGo Routes 3, 37, & 50