Starting on September 1, mass transit in Indy will look a whole lot different than it has the past several decades.
Running north to south from 66th Street to the University of Indianapolis campus, IndyGo’s new Red Line will transform public transportation in Indy as we know it, with electric buses regularly running along the line in 10- to 20-minute increments.
For the entire month of September, the Red Line will be free to ride, giving the public a chance to try it out and learn the ropes. Additionally, all other IndyGo routes will be free to ride for the first two weeks of September.
Before you head out and ride, we’ve put together this commuter’s guide, highlighting key information you need to know before hopping aboard the Red Line. In addition to rider tips, we’ve also laid out a guide for Indianapolis drivers as well, explaining the Red Line’s impact on their daily car commute.
Know the Basics
Before giving the Red Line a try, you need to visualize where the electric bus route will run.
“If you don’t know where it goes, then it might be hard to figure out how it could be useful to you,” says IndyGo ridership experience specialist Jerome Horne.
The Red Line will run from Broad Ripple in the north to University of Indianapolis in the south, touching areas like Downtown and Fountain Square along the way. A total of 28 stations will appear every quarter- to half-mile along the Red Line’s 13-mile stretch, providing thousands of Indy residents with efficient access to work and play.
For a complete schedule of Red Line operating hours, visit the IndyGo website.
How Paying Works
It will cost $1.75 to ride the Red Line, which is currently what it costs to ride any IndyGo bus. However, this $1.75 charge will grant Red Line riders a two-hour transfer window, allowing them to connect to other buses during that time frame.
“That is new. We didn’t have free transfers before,” Horne says. “Now we do for a two-hour period.”
Riders will be able to pay in a variety of different ways. Of course, cash will still be accepted. However, other modes payment options will include a reloadable fare card, as well as a mobile app that offers riders with a scan-ready QR code.
“They’ll be able to reload that card online,” Horne says. “They’ll be able to visit our customer service center downtown or call customer service on the phone. Or, they can do it through an app on their phone anywhere, anytime. They can also just use their mobile device [to scan upon bus entry] if they have a smartphone.”
IndyGo will also be doing away with “period passes,” implementing a fare-capping system instead. This means riders will no longer be able to buy a 10-day pass, for example. Instead, they will pay as they go, with fare capping out at a certain amount each day and each week.
“The reason we’re doing that has to do with equity,” Horne says. “Our monthly pass today costs $60, and for our riders who are low-income, $60 is a lot to ask for all at once. What this [new system] does is allow people to earn that same benefit by simply riding the system more and not having to fork up that cost.”
For IndyGo riders, there will be a $4 fare cap daily and a $15.75 fare cap weekly. These amounts are the highest amount that a MyKey customer will have to pay in a given day or week while using their MyKey fare card or the MyKey mobile app.
This brings us to the final Red Line rider recommendation.
The Important Apps
According to Horne, there are two must-have mobile phone apps for every Red Line rider. The first of these is the aforementioned MyKey app, which makes fare payment quick and painless. The second is MyStop, which provides riders with real-time updates on bus arrivals.
Red Line riders can also use Google Maps to help plan their route, although Horne says the app doesn’t currently provide real-time updates like MyStop does.
“We did actually have real time on Google Maps, but because we upgraded our GPS system on all of our buses, that feature is not working anymore,” says Horne, adding that an announcement will be made once Google Maps and other third-party apps are synced up with real-time IndyGo info. “For now, the MyStop app and the MyKey app are the two main apps that people will want to focus on until we expand to other apps later.”
Note: The MyKey app is not yet live but will be available when the Red Line is no longer free to ride in October.
According to Horne, there are three key factors that Indianapolis drivers should pay attention to while commuting on Red Line–filled roads.
“Drivers especially need to be aware of the new lane configurations, turning restrictions, and traffic patterns that are along the route,” Horne says.
The Red Lanes
First and foremost, lanes that are solid red are for the Red Line only, and not for cars. Additionally, there are also dashed red lanes that cars can only use for turning purposes.
“We do have portions of dashed red lanes, and a dashed red lane means that you can merge into that lane in order to make a turn,” Horne says. “You cannot travel straight through, but you are allowed to merge in and make a turn from that lane.”
Besides these Red Lanes, Horne says all other driving indicators should be pretty self-explanatory.
“A lot of the other driver rules are pretty much the same rules as there are today,” Horne says. “People just need to follow the signs and read what the signs say.”
“Anywhere that there’s a solid white line or a solid yellow line, it means the same thing that it does everywhere else—you’re not supposed to cross that line,” he adds.
The Turning Restrictions
From Washington Street north, drivers must pay attention to new lane configurations caused by the Red Line. These alterations mostly occur on Meridian Street, Capitol Avenue, and College Avenue, where Red Line stops are located in the middle of streets.
“There are new left-turn pockets and U-turn signals that are installed at a lot of places to allow people to be able to turn left safely or make a U-turn to get to a place that they used to be able to turn directly left into,” Horne says.
In anticipation of these changes, IndyGo has already posted instructional videos to their website, walking local commuters through the changes.
The Traffic Patterns
Much like Red Line riders, Indianapolis car commuters can also benefit from knowing basics on the rapid transit route.
On Monday through Friday, the Red Line will run along its route from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., with buses coming to each stop every 10 minutes. The frequency then decreases from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on these days, with buses running every 15 minutes.
On Saturday, the Red Line runs every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. And on Sunday, it runs from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every 15 minutes, and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. every 20 minutes.
Using this daily schedule, drivers can plan their route accordingly, taking things like rush hour and detours into consideration.