IndyGo and Super Bowl organizers were thinking ahead when they were planning transportation and parking for the Super Bowl week in Indianapolis. Park & Ride lots were located, shuttle services were organized, and IndyGo submitted for and received a CMAQ grant to provide free fixedroute boardings from February 2nd through February 5th. As a result of high demand for parking downtown, ridership on IndyGo fixed route service has spiked tremendously. The first week following the AFC & NFC championships, IndyGo observed a spike.Â Friday January 28th, Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th ridership increased 12%, 38% andÂ 36% respectively. Keep in mind that fares were still normal then.
Starting on Friday February 3rd, my twitter feed started filling up with tweets stating that buses were full. Indeed, through the weekend I saw multiple buses with the message displaying, “Sorry — Bus Full”. Friday night, I saw two sheltered stops on the southbound 17, north of 38th street, that were so full of people that they were spilling over onto the sidewalk waiting on buses to arrive; at 9pm at night! That is unheard of here.
For Indianapolis, this is unprecedented and represents a key concept we have talked at length about here at Urban Indy; that being the link between properly valued parking and public transit usage. For the first time that I can personally remember, market value overcame the glut of subsidized parking in downtown Indy and as predicted, Indianapolis’ meager transit provider was stretched like a body builder putting on a bad fitting tank top. Granted, free fares contributed to the overflow that we have observed this pastÂ weekend, howeverÂ last weekend is proof that demand for transit in Indy exists when parking supplyÂ is properly allowed to fluctuate at market value.
With the recent failure to pass a bill for local transit funding at the statehouse, perhaps the city can use this lesson as a way of raising support for transit improvementsÂ in the future.