One Less Car Downtown

Last week, I gave my prepaid parking pass back to my workplace. This is something I’ve been looking forward to doing for a long time, and fortunately, my place of work has agreed to provide for my bus passes.

Weekday Red Line service has been pretty-good-to-very-good so far. I’ve basically turned the station closest to my house into my own personal park-and-ride. Yes, I’m still using a car. After work, I need to pick my kids up from their schools. I don’t have a cargo bike. I’m bad at this urbanism thing. Still, I won’t miss driving and parking downtown one bit. Few things stress me out and depress me more than getting stuck in post-work traffic in the mile square, knowing that I’m actually contributing to the problem just by being there in a single-occupancy vehicle.

A month ago, I put a poll out to my twitter followers about how downtown workplaces deal with transportation options. Here are the results in picture form:

Image Credit: Twitter

At first, I didn’t know how my workplace would react when I asked them whether or not they would provide my bus passes. I’m not sure if anyone else who works for them has asked this before. But as I found out, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The way I figure it, they save money in the deal. Parking is likely more expensive than even the most pricey of the IndyGo options, the $60 monthly passes. I’ll save money too, in terms of purchased gas and car maintenance. But of course, it’s more than money to me. It’s the ability to relax instead of stress. To observe the comings and goings of city residents. To pollute the air less. It all seems like a big win.

I’m just one person, and I only work downtown twice a week. However, it’s a start. Please let me know in the comments if you wish to join me (or if you already have, of course).




Comments 29

  • The last time we passed each other in your downtown workplace elevator lobby…I had ridden the Red Line to get there too. 🙂

  • Good job. Thanks for sharing Kevin. Our team at Hoosier Environmental Council is taking the Red Line together today to celebrate successes achieved in 2019.

  • I was surprised to read in today’s IBJ 8 at 8 email that IndyGo is just now developing plans to promote this type of approach to businesses along the red line route. You’d think this would have been done in July and August so that people would have tried it out for free all this month.

    • I am a Red Line supportr, advocate, and rider. But there are obviously a number of things you would think IndyGo would have been better prepared for prior to the Red Line’s debut (in addition to the buy-in by larger downtown employers, these include operative station monitors, bus headway management, battery recharging scheduling, electronic fare sales, etc.). Each of these snafus are missed opportunities to win over potential rides and most importantly taxpayers.

      • Similar story here. I give the Red Line an “A” for concept, but a “C-” for rollout. I totally understand that there will be hiccups but there have been a LOT of hiccups so far. I want to use the line for getting to work on bad-weather days but thus far I just don’t trust that a bus will actually show up every 10 minutes. So far my wife and I have observed a lot of bunching – sometimes we see 4 going the same direction over a span of 10 minutes, then nothing for 30. Isn’t tech in the buses supposed to help them keep their spacing? Hope it’s not the same tech that’s feeding the non-operative “real time information boards” in the stations.
        I still support this and think it’ll be great for the city in the long run, but these issues have been a frustrating lost opportunity to win more folks over.

  • I use the Red Line almost daily. Previously, I could have taken the 17, which I used occasionally, but buses on the 1/2 hour were difficult and unpredictable. Now, there is a Red Line station near my house at 52nd St. and the Statehouse station is about the same distance from my office as my parking garage.

    The first week of commuting was a little bumpy, as expected. Buses were very full and one trip (an extreme outlier) took 40 minutes. Today, the buses at rush hour are full, but there are usually southbound seats available. Northbound at rush hour remains standing room only.

    The best feature is the app with real time bus tracking. You can figure out approximately when to leave to catch the next bus as it moves along the map. The projected arrival times and station screens with the same information are usually inaccurate.

    So far, the average time over 18 rush hour trips is 29 minutes between 52nd and Statehouse (excluding the outlier 40 minute trip from the first week). I can make the drive to my parking garage in about 22-23 minutes, but it can take as long as 30 depending on traffic.

    In total, the Red Line take about the same amount of time as driving. While I cannot completely ditch my car due to work travel requirements, the Red Line means I rarely drive during the week unless the next bus is 20 or more minutes away, which can happen.

  • I wish I could ride the red line, but there’s no park and ride. Plus, the day I did ride (last Saturday night) I waited at the station downtown for 45 minutes. Unfortunately I can’t risk being late to work. So, Thank you for riding the red line! One less car I have to deal with during rush hour.

    • Every non-downtown station is a park and ride, if you want it to be. There’s free street parking all over the city.

    • Mike — I just want to back up Kevin’s comments and say STRONGLY that you should not judge the Red Line by the weekend service to date (and especially not this past weekend).

      I’ve found weekday service to be generally quite reliable, with a couple roll-out quirks here and there. You will never see a headway anywhere near 45 minutes during the week. 20 was around the worst I saw and that’s gotten better recently as they continue working on resolving the bunching issue.

  • Every non downtown station is a park and ride, if you want it to be. Yeah, in front of my house so my wife can’t park or leave for her church job on Sunday mornings because we can’t find a parking place near our house because of the increased use of side streets for parking especially on weekends AND WE’RE SICK OF IT. Not to mention the speeding drivers using OUR street and many others in the neighborhood. There are plenty of complaints on the “Our Neighborhood” about the Redline AND it’s effect on the neighborhood. A Star reporter tried the Redline andn driving to work during the week and discovered that, all things being equal, driving beat the Redline by 9 minutes. It used to be that, when I worked downtown (1977-2013) that could take 3 buses to and from downtown. NOW, it’s 2 AND ONLY 1 TO GLENDALE from my house. So far, Redline is every bit as bad as blue Indy. The kicker is I VOTED for the Redline and so far it’s a been a big mess.

    • First, for the most part, it sounds like your problem is with cars, not with the Red Line. Blaming a bus service for cars speeding down your street makes no sense to me. Seems like we need to slow the cars down, which I support.

      Second, street parking is free to the public. I have no right to the parking spot in front of my own house. Maybe neighborhoods could institute permit parking if it becomes an issue. I’d be fine with that.

      • MY point was that the Redline is exacerbating these problems. It’s not JUST MY part of the neighborhood that is experiencing these problems, I’m reading about them all over the area. The cars are speeding down side streets to AVOID COLLEGE AVE. The parking problems have been made worse due to the lack of parking near businesses on College.

        • Here’s my own personal anecdote to add to yours: I used to live on Guilford, south of Broad Ripple. On Saturday evenings at about 3 am after last call, drivers would fly through that narrow side street like it was a speedway. That’s not the fault of the bike lane or bus routes. The constant here between my anecdote and yours is car drivers behaving badly.

          I remember hearing the same complaints about the Broad Ripple Bike Lanes, that drivers eventually went flying down the side streets to avoid Broad Ripple Avenue. I don’t hear that as much anymore. Eventually, drivers will either realize that flying and stopping and flying and stopping down side streets gains them nothing. And maybe, there needs to be enforcement of speeding.

          As far as parking, 90 percent of parking was retained along the Red Line. That 10 percent loss didn’t change everything. Parking a car just takes up a lot of urban space.
          However, the area where I park on weekdays has had plenty of spots open every day I’ve used the Red Line. It’s just a block away from the station. And on weekends, when I have more free time, I’ll walk to the station.

          Finally, sometimes on Sundays, I can’t park right in front of my house because of the churches that are on my block. That could be an issue on your block, just as much it is on mine.

        • You are describing a BEHAVIORAL issue of drivers, not something that is caused by the Red Line. Drivers have been speeding in the city for generations, long before the Red Line existed. I grew up in Butler Tarkington off Meridian Street, and we regularly had to contend not only with crazy drivers racing up and down Meridian and Illinois, but also having cars barrel across our otherwise quiet little cross street to go between Illinois and Meridian so they could continue speeding.

          The only thing that temporarily alleviated the problem was when IPD would decide to have a speed enforcement crackdown. Of course, once the traffic officers disappeared, the speeding resumed. It is long past time for the city to consistently enforce traffic laws, and if the city needs to use the Red Line as an excuse to finally start doing what it should have been doing for decades, then I say hurrah!

          As for parking, you don’t own space on a public street. You can park in your driveway or in your garage on your private property. I do not think I am getting so old that I am only imagining most people along College have driveways and garages. I know we certainly had both a driveway and a garage growing up in BT, as did all of our neighbors. But, if for some reason it truly is an issue, your neighborhood can petition the city to implement residential permit parking. Again, this is not something to cause you to whine about the Red Line, but even if you think it is, whining will not change anything–action will.

    • I don’t remember many people guaranteeing the Red Line would always be faster than driving. It does, however, free up the time during travel for people to do other things, so that in itself is a gain.

      • The Red Line was advertised as “drivetime competitive.” So far it has not lived up to some of the times they hinted at. I think it called for 45 minutes from Broad Ripple to U Indy. They once had a schedule up in August that reflected these times but it went away at the roll out and the realistic schedule went up. Those times advertised were very good and it might be hard to hit them. However, they need signal priority badly to really capitalize on this investment. Hold green & First in the cycle would alone be huge. A couple of other tweaks and it could really win a lot more people over with the speed.

        • I’ve heard from IndyGo that signal priority is an ongoing issue that will be addressed over time. And it’s needed. Today I realized that the southbound bus at College and 38th has to wait for both 38th AND College to go through their whole light cycles. It only turns right when eastbound 38th gets their left turn light on. That’s not great.

          Still, there were 52 riders on my morning commute. I think that’s a great number to hit. Hope it keeps up after the small fee goes in place.

        • Hey Paul, I’ve been curious about this too. Is the “signal prioritization” tech not working on the red line? I was under the impression that when a bus approaches an intersection the light will be held green longer or have the red light shortened to let it through faster. I’ve no idea if that’s actually happening though.

          • If the hold green is working, then I don’t see it. I have seen a bus get caught at a yellow several times based on the normal cycle (you can tell by the walk sign count downs).

            Yesterday though it appeared that the bus got the right turn green before the rest of traffic going south at 38th & 18th…… Maybe I was confused and I was in the back of the bus but I swear that happened…. so progress??

    • It is no more YOUR street than the space in front of your house is YOUR parking spot. You live in a big city where everyone wants cars. There are consequences to the result of that mindset.

  • College Ave has been deserted at times of the day when I previously recall it being filled with traffic. Perhaps as people realize it still remains a very viable artery, the increase in traffic on side streets will lessen.

    • That explains the increased traffic on Meridian. Or maybe it’s the detour signs on 86th St stating there’s construction on College. Wonder how long those will be around. Knowing Indy the signs will be around for a long time.

  • a monthly bus pass would be really nice, makes no sense why that wouldn’t be an alternative option to a parking pass.

  • At the next Colts’ home game, IndyGo should have a line of empty buses ready to swing into place at the stations closest to the stadium to accept riders. Once a bus is full and departs a station, the next empty bus pulls in the station and loads up. Repeat often. Show people you can handle large crowds leaving special events. Promote your plan, and then deliver.

    • I had no issue yesterday going to or getting back from the game. I could have tried to make a bus at the statehouse right after the game but I decided to back track to the DTC to beat the crowd. It looked as if they sent a bus up from the garage and it had no issues fitting the people that it picked up at about 4:30.

  • I’m noticing a lot of station damage, bus damage, College Ave center lane bumper damage ( missing pieces and reflector pealing). Are these items going to get fixed or ignored like so many other things in the city.

    • Go to IndyGo’s website and report the issue. Coming on to a private blog to post a rhetorical question is not going to fix the issue.

      That said, I believe IndyGo is currently focused on the operational issues with the Red Line, and they will make repairs as part of their regularly scheduled maintenance.

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