Red Line FAQ’s

We’ve provided answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Red Line below. Click on a category to see Questions and Answers. Check back often for new questions and more in-depth answers!

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Why the Red Line?

What is the Red Line?

The Red Line will be a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line that offers a fast, frequent, and comfortable transportation option that has been split into three separate phases. It will be readily available to over 100,000 people who will be walking distance of the Red Line once all 3 phases are complete.

  • Phase 1 of the Red Line will run from Broad Ripple through the Julia M. Carson Transit Center south to the University of Indianapolis.
  • Phase 2 of the Red Line will run from Broad Ripple north to Carmel and Westfield and will be funded through referenda in Hamilton and Johnson Counties.
  • Phase 3 of the Red Line will run from University of Indianapolis south to Greenwood and will be funded through referenda in Hamilton and Johnson Counties.

What is BRT?

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a fixed guideway bus-based mass transit system meant to emulate all the service features of light rail, only in a more cost effective way.

Why are we building the Red Line?

As a result of the city and region of Indianapolis identifying public transportation as a top priority during the 2009 – 2011 Indy Connect planning process, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA), and the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo) have been working to improve Central Indiana’s mobility options. The Indy Connect public outreach study established a need to both enhance the local bus network and build 4 Rapid Transit lines to serve as the backbone of the transit system. The Red Line is the first proposed Central Indiana BRT line and will run from Carmel to Greenwood when complete.

  • Job Access/Economic Opportunity:Indianapolis ranks near the bottom of all metro areas in the country for economic mobility, or the ability of someone to raise their economic status. A primary factor that limits economic opportunity is a person’s ability to access a job. There are many people in Marion County who are willing to work but just can’t get to the jobs that exist. An enhanced transit system will solve this problem.
  • Quality of Life/Talent Attraction:Demographic trends nationwide have seen a dramatic change in the past decade. Young educated people are increasingly moving to a location where they want to live and then find a job, rather than moving for a job. Young people are increasingly choosing to move to cities with strong transit and bicycling infrastructure and living in areas where many destinations are within walking distance. Also as the Baby Boomer generation gets older, they will want to live in places that offer connectivity and walkability so they are not limited to driving.
  • Economic Development:Just as people willing to work are seeking job access and young professionals are seeking vibrant neighborhoods, employers are making a shift towards following employees rather than the other way around. Also, robust transit service enables developers to build with lower parking ratios, making new urban development more cost effective.

How many people will use the Red Line?

Initial estimates show approximately 11,000 trips per day will be made via the Red Line based on current demand and travel modeling. It is also expected that ridership will grow over time with the increasing population of the downtown area.

The Red Line will provide access to work, health care, restaurants, education, entertainment, and shopping. It will serve as an alternative to driving for people of all ages.

How will the Red Line impact employment in the area?

Employment density is actually the #1 predictor of higher ridership. Downtown and North Meridian St. have the highest employment densities of any corridors in the region, and IndyGo correspondingly (and predictably) has high ridership in those areas. In particular, the Red Line gets closer to Butler and IUPUI, and it runs adjacent to Ivy Tech and University of Indianapolis. It also connects many IPS schools, cultural institutions like the Children’s Museum and the State Fairgrounds, Broad Ripple, Fountain Square, and Market East Cultural Districts, stadiums, venues, and convention space downtown, the state’s largest hospital, Eli Lilly, and approximately 1 of every 4 jobs in the county.

Why is the Red Line first over the Blue and Purple line?

In nearly every significant metric, the Red Line corridor has more activity density than the Purple or Blue Lines. The metrics tell the story of a stronger Red Line corridor. The Red Line has more population and employment density, more households, more retail space, more student trips and social trips, and even slightly more low income households than the Purple Line corridor. It will ultimately provide transit to the state’s 2 largest employment concentrations in downtown Indianapolis and along U.S. Highway 31 in Carmel, as well as the state’s largest hospital, and 4 major higher education institutions. The Red Line corridor has the most walkable, urban development pattern, with the tightest street grid and the most established sidewalk infrastructure. The streets and surrounding neighborhoods were originally designed to have good access to transit stations, so the development pattern around the Red Line is objectively more transit-oriented than large sections of 38th St. and Washington St. East 38th St. is also more of an automotive corridor, which creates some difficult obstacles for transit users. The one exception is that the Purple Line has a much greater minority population density than the Red Line (with roughly equivalent low income densities). We will continue to operate high capacity service on East 38th St., and it is the next corridor we will work to upgrade to rapid service.

What about the route for Phase 1 makes it best option?

The Phase 1 is one of IndyGo’s most heavily traveled bus routes. It currently represents 1% of our service area, but 15% of our boardings.

It is a key corridor for the region that includes the state’s 2 largest employment concentrations in downtown Indianapolis and along U.S. Highway 31 in Carmel, as well as the state’s largest hospital, and 4 major higher education institutions.

Phase 1 is a dense, walkable, pedestrian friendly corridor making it easy to utilize the bus. In fact, the Red Line route is the densest corridor in the city (and the state).  It also has a lot of opportunities for transit-oriented development. While a very small section of  those who live in the Red Line corridor it is affluent, on average it is much lower income and more diverse than all of Indianapolis as a whole.  The Red Line is not about only serving those with no other option.  It’s about providing a quality option to the largest number of people possible.

 

The Route

What is the route of Phase 1 of the Red Line?

Phase 1 of the Red Line will start in Broad Ripple and run south along College Ave. to 38th St. There will be stops approximately every half mile at elevated platform stations in the center of the street with dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes on each side. One current northbound travel lane will be removed for the center bus lanes and some parking restrictions will be implemented. There will also be left turn restrictions crossing the bus lanes at locations without traffic signals. Find the detailed plans here.

  • At 38th St., the Red Line will cross over to Meridian St., connect with several east/west bus lines, and then will continue south on Meridian St. to 18th St. On Meridian St., the Red Line will travel in dedicated bus only lanes. Bus lanes and raised medians in the center of the street will limit left turns to key signalized intersections.
  • At Capitol Ave., the Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will head south. A northbound dedicated bus-only lane will be built on the eastern edge of the street, which will reduce metered parking along Capitol Ave. Center platforms will be spaced every half mile for rapid service. A southbound bus-only lane will be shared with turning cars to preserve left-turn access off Capitol Ave. North of 10th St two general use lanes will remain for southbound only traffic, and south of 10th St three general use lanes will remain for southbound only traffic.
  • The Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will continue south on Capitol Ave. and connect with the Julia M. Carson Transit Center via Washington St when headed outbound and via Maryland St when headed inbound.
  • Through Fletcher Place and Fountain Square neighborhoods along Virginia Ave., the Red Line vehicles will travel in mixed traffic with no dedicated lanes. Stations will be on either side of the street.
  • The Shelby St. corridor plans call for no dedicated lanes with stations on either side of the street, with Phase 1 ending at the University of Indianapolis.

Is this part of a larger plan?

Yes, the Red Line was proposed in the Indy Connect Regional Transit Initiative. This initiative established a need to both enhance the local bus network and build 4 Rapid Transit lines to serve as the backbone of the transit system. The Red Line will be the first to be built due to the greater amount of immediate ridership along the proposed route.

In working towards successfully creating the recommendations of the Indy Connect initiative, funding for Phase 1 of the Red Line was sought through a Federal Small Starts Grant. Therefore, funding and construction of Phase 1 is independent of the Marion County Transit Plan. The funding sought for the Marion County Transit Plan will be used to fund the construction of the Purple Line, the Blue Line, enhancements to the local network, and portions Phases 2 and 3 of the Red Line.

What days of the week and how often will the Red Line operate once it is in service? 

The Red Line will run 7 days a week 365 days a year. The breakdown below details how the line will operate during different times and days of the week:

Monday-Friday 5AM to 1AM

  • 5AM to 7AM Buses come every 20 minutes
  • 7AM to 10PM Buses come every 10 to 12 minutes
  • 10PM to 1AM Buses come every 20 minutes

Saturday 7AM to 1AM

  • 7AM to 10PM Buses come every 15 minutes
  • 10PM to 1AM Buses come every 20 minutes

Sunday 7AM to 10PM

  • 7AM to 10PM buses come every 15 minutes

What is the timeline for Phase 1 of the Red Line? 

 

  • Construction is expected to start at the end of 2017.
  • Opening date will be in mid 2019.

Funding

How will the Red Line be funded?

Funding for construction of Phase 1 of the Red Line would come from a $75 million Federal Small Starts Grant and $18 million in local and/or state funding, along with a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant already in place. The total project cost of $96.3 million includes roughly $57 million in infrastructure upgrades (including sidewalks, pavement, traffic signals, etc.), $14.5 million in vehicle costs, and $25 million in contingency to cover any unforeseen expenses or cost inflation. The operations cost for Phase 1 of the Red Line would be funded by approximately $6 million of new local tax money to be approved by the City-County Council.

Construction of Phase 2 and 3 of the Red Line would be funded through additional federal capital grants. Operations of Phase 2 and 3 would be funded through referenda in Hamilton and Johnson Counties.

How much will it cost to ride?

The Red Line would be priced just like any other IndyGo route. IndyGo is planning a comprehensive fare study in the next year to look at the potential implementation of various features, such as free connections and electronic payment systems.

Who will operate the Red Line?

IndyGo is the major transit operator in the region, is spearheading the design process, and will manage operations after construction.

Why not light rail?

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) offers almost all of the same amenities as light rail, except for passenger capacity. A train can connect several vehicles together and carry 500 people per trip, whereas a bus is limited to itself and can carry a maximum of 100 people per trip. When passenger loads are so high that a BRT vehicle must come at least every 2 minutes to carry the load, then rail service begins to be cost competitive. Population density projections for the Red Line service area don’t justify the cost to build rail rapid transit.

Bus Rapid Transit will provide great service at a fraction of the cost of light rail.

Like light rail, the Red Line will be fully electric. The buses will use a high-power charger at the north end of the line with fast charge batteries to enable a 10 minute charge to give the bus enough power for a full round-trip without the need for overhead wires.

Dedicated Lanes

Where will the Red Line travel in a dedicated lane?

The Red Line will travel in dedicated lanes on College Ave., Meridian St., and Capitol Ave. Check out our detailed map to learn more.

This means that dedicated lanes exist from 66th St. to downtown, while no dedicated lanes will be built on the south leg of Phase 1.  The reason is that dedicated lanes are only needed where traffic congestion warrants it.  Without congestion, the dedicated lanes provide the bus no advantage.  The south side is a paralleled by I-65 and Madison Ave. which carry nearly all of the commuting traffic, leaving Virginia Ave. and Shelby St. with virtually no congestion, other than waiting for long signals (which also would slow dedicated lanes).

Placing dedicated lanes on the more congested streets on the north side will allow the Red Line to be competitive in travel time with driving and to reliably come when a rider expects it. It also results in lower operating costs because the faster the bus moves, the fewer buses are needed on the route. In many locations, the BRT lanes can actually help with traffic flow as well.

What is the benefit of BRT traveling in dedicated lanes?

Dedicated lanes avoid major congestion delays. This allows the Red Line to be competitive with driving and provides reliable service. Dedicated lanes also result in lower operating costs because the faster the bus moves, the fewer buses are needed on the route.

In many locations, the BRT lanes can help with traffic flow. Buses will be traveling every 5-10 minutes and therefore will require their own lane to avoid impeding local travel. Without a dedicated lane, the buses would block all traffic in the southbound direction of College Ave. and 1 lane in the northbound direction of College Ave. and in both directions of Meridian St.

Why does BRT need dedicated lanes?

Dedicated lanes in specific corridors along the route ensures the bus is an efficient and reliable transit option.

A Bus Rapid Transit best practice is to put the bus lanes in the middle lane to reduce conflicts with right turning vehicles. Stations in the middle serve both directions of travel with a single station; lowering costs and providing a more user-friendly system.

Can you tell me more about the median?

Once the Red Line is implemented, left turns will be restricted on College Ave. (from Broad Ripple Ave to 38th St.) and Meridian St. (from 38th St. to 18th St.) and will only be allowed at signalized intersections. However, at each signalized intersection, a left turn lane and protected left turn signal phase (“green arrow”) will be in place that will allow drivers to make a legal and easy U-turn. This will allow drivers to pass their destination and make a U-turn at the next available signal to get back to their destination, without passing through the neighborhoods. In a few select locations new traffic signals will be installed to allow for access to left turns.

On College Ave. (from 38th St. to Broad Ripple Ave.), the Red Line will be operating in a dedicated lane in the center of the street. Both north and southbound buses will share the single lane and the median will be in the middle of the bus lane. The bus will drive over the median, straddling it between its wheels. This single bi-directional lane originated from strong neighborhood concerns over parking.

On Meridian St. between 38th and 18th streets, the concrete median is similar but would be located between the two bus rapid transit vehicle lanes.

On both streets the small median, 4 inches tall and 16 inches wide, will prevent cars from turning across the bus rapid transit lane(s). This is necessary to improve what is an already unsafe condition – both streets (College & Meridian) see many accidents from cars attempting to turn left to/from smaller crossing streets and in fact the city has already attempted to restrict many of those turning movements through the use of markings and signage. With the introduction of BRT-only lanes, it is important to correct any lingering safety issues of the street and to ensure that the BRT service doesn’t add to them. There is no safe way to allow left turns from College and/or Meridian onto a side street, across the BRT lanes, without a traffic signal because of the “hook” effect. This means that a driver would have to both be watching for oncoming traffic and for a bus approaching in their blind spot.

This is not an issue when pulling from a side street onto College/Meridian but, unfortunately, there is no median design that both prohibits left turns from College/Meridian yet still allows left turns from a side street onto College/Meridian. However, the median can be notched out with short openings in certain areas to allow bicycles, strollers, and wheelchairs to cross. The median will also be designed to be “mountable,” meaning that a large emergency vehicle can go over it when needed.

Why not add buses to the existing system instead of building BRT?

The BRT stations allow the buses to speed up the boarding process, which is a large portion of the time the bus spends on a route. There is a direct trade off between speed and bus service on the street.  Buses operate in a continuous loop, so speeding up travel on that loop allows us to provide the same service with fewer buses.  Essentially, speeding up the buses is the same as adding more buses. If we attempted to operate 10 minutes headways (a bus every 10 minutes) in the Red Line corridor without any infrastructure improvements, we’d likely need 3-4 additional buses, increasing our annual operating cost by over $2 million.  In addition, the travel time would be longer and fewer people would ride.

Neighborhoods

What neighborhoods will the Red Line route connect through?

Phase 1 of the Red Line will connect Broad Ripple, Meridian-Kessler, Butler-Tarkington, Fall Creek Place, Meridian Park, Herron Morton, Fletcher Place, Fountain Square, Bates-Hendricks, and Garfield Park.

Will the Red Line change the character of my neighborhood?

Nearly all of the neighborhoods along the Red Line were developed in the era of streetcars and the interurban, which heavily influenced the patterns of development. For example, the commercial nodes along College Ave. every half mile were directly attributed to the interurban stops that were located on those corners. Therefore, the Red Line is entirely within the character of the corridor.

Depending on neighborhood plans, some areas along the Red Line may choose to construct higher density developments. These developments would help build future ridership for the Red Line, but are not needed or assumed for our analysis results or grant scoring, which are based on existing conditions.

Will the Red Line increase or decrease my property value?

Study after study has shown that proximity to a Rapid Transit service increases the neighboring property values. This is a major reason why the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors (MIBOR) is a supporter of the project.

Will the Red Line bring more crime to my neighborhood?

No. There is no evidence that the introduction of new transit service encourages criminal elements to take transit into previously inaccessible neighborhoods. Several studies have actually shown the opposite, two of which can be found here and here.

How will the Red Line impact businesses along the route?

Studies show a frequent, reliable transit service will draw a wider range of riders to the transit system and provide greater accessibility to reach businesses along the route.

We will work with businesses individually to create solutions to ensure delivery companies alter their routes if necessary. In addition, sidewalks in front of residential and business areas will be improved.

Traffic and Parking

What is Traffic LOS?

Level of Service (LOS) is a grading used to relate the quality of traffic flow.

Typically, traffic engineers will design for an LOS of D in the daily rush hour. An LOS of A, B, or C means that delay is very low all day – meaning the street has been over-designed and too much money was spent to create it. An LOS of E or F indicates that there is a lot of traffic congestion during peak times.

When modeling the Red Line traffic impacts, we modeled both the existing condition (what the streets look like today) and the “build” condition (when the Red Line has been implemented). If existing condition LOS was an A, B, or C then the build condition is allowed to “lower” the LOS to D if needed. If the existing LOS of an intersection is D, E, or F, our goal with the Red Line design was to keep the same LOS. In some locations (like Kessler Blvd. and College Ave.) we needed to add a short right turn lane to maintain that LOS. Some locations (like 38th and Meridian St.) operate at LOS E in both the existing and build condition – our goal is not to fix all existing traffic issues.

Will traffic on parallel streets increase dramatically?

Our current analysis shows an increase of 100 cars total travelling on the adjacent neighborhood streets daily during the afternoon rush hour. This constitutes roughly 25 cars on each of the adjacent streets (Pennsylvania Ave., Meridian St., Washington Ave., and Central Ave.). To put this in perspective, the current daily traffic on Central Ave. is 4,000 cars during afternoon rush hour; the additional 25 cars would be an increase of less than 1%. Our analysis shows very little additional traffic during all other times of the day.

We expect a reduction in traffic volume of 25% on northbound Meridian St. and northbound College Ave. in the afternoon rush hour, as well as a 25% reduction on southbound Meridian St. in the morning rush hour. With the additional ridership that this project will generate we expect that much of the decrease will occur because of new riders on the Red Line (and no longer driving), but a small number of drivers will pursue other parallel routes during those peak rush hour times.

Similarly on Meridian St. and Capitol Ave., some traffic diversion is expected to other streets. Volume increases would not exceed 2% of existing traffic volumes on the parallel streets.

Will the Red Line cause traffic gridlock?

No. This project has gone well beyond a traditional Traffic Impact Analysis and completed a full working simulation model for the entire corridor. The Red Line has been designed to maintain the original Level of Service (LOS) at congested intersections. Coordinated traffic signal timing along the route will help offset the loss of some traffic lanes.

On College Ave.:

  • College Ave. is currently 1 lane southbound and 2 lanes northbound, with limited turning lanes. Without turn lanes, cars attempting to turn left will block all travel in their lane, causing significant delays. Part of the Red Line project is to add left turn lanes. Existing local bus service along College Ave. will be removed from the regular traffic lanes.
  • The combination of left turn restrictions/lanes and removing local buses actually improves traffic flow in the southbound direction. In the northbound direction, the street would go from 2 lanes down to 1 for auto use, but again, left turn lanes will be added and local buses removed. The net result is a loss of roughly 25% of the capacity in the northbound direction.
  • Our current analysis shows an increase of 100 cars total travelling on the adjacent neighborhood streets during the afternoon rush hour. This constitutes roughly 25 cars on each of the adjacent streets (Pennsylvania Ave., Meridian St., Washington Ave., and Central Ave.). To put this in perspective, the current daily traffic on Central Ave. is 4,000 cars during the afternoon rush hour; the additional 25 cars would be an increase of less than 1%. Our analysis shows very little additional traffic during all other times of the day.
  • Northbound College Ave. only experiences traffic that nears its capacity level in the PM peak (5-6pm) and current conditions are expected to be maintained and not worsen. At all other times of day little to no impact on traffic volumes or congestion is expected. In 2 locations, at Kessler Blvd. and at Broad Ripple Ave., the Red Line project will add right turn lanes for northbound cars to maintain the existing level of service.

38th St.:

  • One lane of 38th St. would be converted to BRT-only from Pennsylvania St. to Park Ave. Although traffic congestion is significant on 38th St., it is nearly all driven by the intersections of Meridian St. and College Ave. Those intersections drive the need for 3 lanes in each direction. At traffic signals in between (Pennsylvania St., Washington Ave., and Central St.), the signal timing can be adjusted to offset the loss of a lane without significant impact.

Meridian St.:

  • Similar to northbound College Ave., both directions of Meridian St. currently have 2 lanes with limited turn lanes. With the prohibition of left turns at non-signalized locations, the addition of left turn lanes, and the removal of existing local buses from the remaining lane we expect the capacity of the street to be reduced by 25%. Meridian St. sees traffic volumes near capacity in both the morning and afternoon rush hours and so during those times we do expect the traffic volume on Meridian St. to be reduced by 25%, with little impact for the remainder of the day.

Capitol Ave.:

  • The Red Line will institute dedicated lanes on Capitol Ave. However, unlike College Ave. and Meridian St., Capitol Ave. currently never sees traffic volumes that approach its capacity. With the new configuration, existing traffic volumes will still be well below the street capacity – meaning that congestion will be minimal. The relatively low volumes on Capitol Ave. are largely due to the fact that it does not have an interchange with I-65.

South side

  • No dedicated lanes are proposed on the South side and traffic impacts will be minimal.

How does the Red Line impact driving along the route?

Along College Ave. and Meridian St., left turns will be limited to signalized intersections.

At each signalized intersection, a left turn lane and protected left turn signal phase (“green arrow”) will be in place that will allow drivers to make a legal and easy U-turn. This will allow drivers to pass their destination and make a U-turn at the next available signal to get back to their destination, without passing through the neighborhoods. In a few select locations new traffic signals will be installed to allow for access to left turns.

How does the Red Line impact parking?

Some parking would be removed at station locations and immediately next to signalized intersections, but overall roughly 95% of the existing parking spaces are maintained in the College Ave. corridor. In the Fletcher Place and Fountain Square corridor, only a few parking spaces will be removed to accommodate stations, but no large scale removals are planned. *(Parking Report is currently being updated.)*

 

Construction

How will the construction of the Red Line impact traffic and parking?

Traffic During Construction: The Red Line team is in the process of finalizing the construction schedule and timeline that will determine when each corridor sees construction activity. As each corridor is under construction, we will work with our construction management team and contractors to target activities within the corridor to minimize the length of time any single area is under construction.

Construction of the Red Line will not result in full closures of any streets on the corridor; there will be lane restrictions in areas where construction activity is occurring. We are also coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Citizens Energy to align our construction activities to closures those entities have planned for the coming years (DPW will be replacing the Capitol Avenue bridge over Fall Creek) and (Citizens Energy will be closing Meridian Street at 28th Street for their Fall Creek Tunnel Project). We will align our construction activities with those projects to minimize additional impacts on traffic during construction. As planned routes for detours are developed, they will be posted online and through traditional media as well as distributed to community groups throughout the impacted area.

Parking: The impact on adjacent street parking will vary throughout the corridor. Along College Avenue, roughly 20 percent of street parking will be removed; generally, these impacts will occur adjacent to station areas and signalized intersections. There will be no impact to street parking on cross streets in the corridor. Along Meridian Street and Capitol Avenues, one lane of parking will be removed from the current street configuration to accommodate the addition of bus lanes; our models show that there will still be adequate supply to meet parking demand in these areas. In the Fletcher Place and Fountain Square corridor, only a few parking spaces will be removed to accommodate stations, but no large scale removals are planned.

There may be temporary parking restrictions as construction occurs. IndyGo will work with its construction management team to minimize these restrictions as much as possible during construction.