By now, if you follow such things, you should have heard that a late hour deal has been struck to save the commuter bus service formerly known as the IndyGO I.C.E. Commuter Bus. The deal, will preserve service for the Fishers & Carmel service which transports commuters multiple times in the mornings and evenings from a single stop in Carmel and a single stop in Fishers. Overseeing the service, will no longer be left up to IndyGO, but Miller Trailways. This isn’t a parting of ways between CIRTA & IndyGO; this represents simply preserving the service by whatever means possible.
While this isn’t ground breaking transit news, it displays the will of multiple organizations in the region to work together to preserve a service, in an environment not typically condusive to transit. It’s a suburban bus service that is being renewed in a time of extreme fiscal conservatism. That alone is a win worth celebrating for transit advocates. “We’re delighted to see so many different entities demonstrate their belief in the importance of this commuter service,” said Ehren T. Bingaman, executive director of CIRTA. “We’re indebted to Miller Trailways, the City of Carmel, the Town of Fishers and Kite Realty Group. As we work to improve transit options, it’s important to continue a service that’s been so successful.”
The service itself however, will reduce the number of times per day that it runs, and will incur a fare increase from $3 to $5. That is not so hot. However, there is good news in the pipe. JARC (Job Access Reverse Commute) federal funding is being sought by CIRTA to help fund this service. If granted, the cut services would hopefully be renewed by June of 2011, as well as a series of circulator buses put into place in Hamilton County from the commuter bus stops, to various employment centers around Hamilton County. The circulator services planned, will not be what was recommended in the Indyconnect proposal in regards to at least the Carmel circulator plan. However, this service would still represent a robust growth in alternative commuting options in the Hamilton County area. It remains to be seen whether the fare to ride the bus would be reduced back to $3 per ride.
As with all transit services, success will be based upon the number of rides generated, and the number of vehicle trips taken off the road. In that respect, the next 6 months should be interesting in determining whether or not the investment proves to be worth it.