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IndyGo Moves Forward with Next Series of Public Meetings

As IndyGo executives continue to review its current network and assess where its priorities should lie, they will be hosting another series of public meetings this week.  As detailed in a recent IBJ article, IndyGo must decide whether to focus its resources on ridership or coverage.  Focusing on ridership would essentially mean investing in routes that would likely see enhanced ridership through higher frequency.  On the other hand, IndyGo could focus a higher percentage of resources on coverage, spreading itself thinner in order to serve more of the county.  With the minimal amount of per-capita-investment into the network, the network cannot effectively invest into both.  Therefore, the question of ridership or coverage will determine the trajectory of the system in the years to come.

IndyGo Current System

Photo Credit: www.indyGo.net

The current system is 60% ridership and 40% coverage.  However, recent surveys have shown that many want the network to focus 80% of the resources on ridership and 20% on coverage.  IndyGo executives do not plan on eliminating routes and is prepared to show the public what an 80/20 network would look like here in Indianapolis.  Of note, they are also seeking input on the structure of the network and the rerouting of certain downtown routes to the new Downtown Transit Center.  The schedule of public meetings can be seen below:

 

Location: The Hall, 202 North Alabama Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Date and Time:

·  Wednesday, Oct. 29: 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

·  Thursday, Oct. 30: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

·  Thursday, Oct. 30: 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

 

References:

McLaughlin, Kathleen. (2014) IndyGo deciding which routes should get focus and resources. Indianapolis Business Journal. Retrieved from http://www.ibj.com/articles/50008-indygo-deciding-which-routes-should-get-focus-and-resources

IndyGo Forward. Retrieved from http://www.indygo.net/news-initiatives/indygoforward?in_ref=eyepiece.

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8 Responses to “ “IndyGo Moves Forward with Next Series of Public Meetings”

  1. I’d prefer that IndyGo focus on increasing the frequency the best performing routes. Ridership and flexibility would go up for the core of the system. The outlying areas simply weren’t built with transit in mind, and it would take an inordinate amount of dollars to turn them into places where transit can see a reasonable return on investment. It is unfortunate that outer services may have to be reduced, but unless we have a blank check, it seems that investing in the core lines is the direction for us to go in the future.

  2. Also, just to prove that these changes are a long time in the making, here are the preview posts that Curt and I made back in 2011.

  3. ahow628 says:

    Personally, for me, none of the changes here would make any difference for me. What would make a difference is the following:

    1) Real-time bus tracking. A lower frequency is totally acceptable if I can have information on when the bus will arrive down to the minute. Especially at the end of the route after delays or lucky light timing, the bus may be +/-10 minutes from its scheduled arrival time. That is too much leeway to deal with. And when I was in Chicago, even with the increased frequency, you’d have two buses supposedly 7 minutes apart on the same route leapfrogging each other with the third bus 14 minutes behind them.

    2) Online manageable, credit card reloadable, RFID tapable fare cards with a discount for reloading higher amounts. As my first point noted, convenience goes a long way without any changes to the current schedules or coverage. I don’t want to have to wait 4 days for fare cards to come in the mail. I don’t want to have to stop by an office and buy them. I want a bulk discount (in Chicago, if you load more than $20, you get a 10% bonus). I want to keep the card in my wallet and I want it to not be made of paper. IndyGo is like a decade or more behind on this.

    3) Transfers are a must for me. I live a 15 minute walk to downtown so I’m in the uncomfortable place where I don’t want to walk the 15 minutes (then wait ala point #1) then ride to my kids’ school. I also don’t want to hop the bus from my house to downtown for a 5 minute ride and then pay full fare again to get on the second bus to the school. I could get a day pass, but that causes me to have to do some mental math to see if I will get my money out of it. Typically this is more mental math than I want to do and I end up just dumping the idea.

    So, to wrap up, I feel like they are focusing on the wrong things if they really want to get the millenial riders (and I think they do). The coverage/frequency debate is good for the current riders, but they really need to look at other points if they want to attract new ridership.

    • Chris Barnett says:

      Those are system/management issues, but they would require investment in different or additional non-bus equipment and systems by IndyGo.

      • ahow628 says:

        So then this gets back to what the purpose of this initiative is. Are we trying to get more riders and grow the system? Because I don’t think the coverage vs frequency debate even addresses that AT ALL.

        If they think that running buses more often is going to make more people use the system or that going to more obscure locations is going to get more people using the system, then that is a problem.

        Now, if they want to make life easier on the current riders, then the coverage vs frequency debate definitely makes sense, but then you are just spending more money on the same riders and basically getting no benefit (reduced per rider costs or increased per rider revenue).

        My three points above address both issues, albeit to a small extent for the third point.

        Real time bus tracking would help current riders and potential riders, regardless of their socioeconomic income. Got a smart phone? Bam, a map with the bus moving along. Got a texting plan? Bam, a text arrives 5 minutes before the bus gets there. Only have voice minutes? Bam, a automated phone call 5 minutes before. How about little LED signs at the stops telling the next arrival time?

        Reloadable farecards could have discounted fares programmed on them along with a picture for identification. Perhaps the State of Indiana could allow vouchers for the poor that would automatically load up their bus fare for the week. People whose jobs would pay their fare might get it paid for pre-tax (that is what I had when I worked in Chicago). These things might be doable now, but would be cumbersome with paper cards and cash fares.

        Transfers are more a matter of reducing friction and it is hard to say who that would affect most. Probably everyone equally and probably not much.

        Now obviously if there are restraints on the budget dollars that say “this money can ONLY be used to expand coverage or increase frequency” then I understand the focus on those to things. But if not, then that just points to a lack of creativity and perhaps even borderline mismanagement on IndyGo’s part.

      • Chris Barnett says:

        As I understand it, IndyGo’s frame around this is “routes” and “realignment to accommodate the transit hub”. This may be an “operating” plan required by Federal transportation dollar flows.

        There has been no discussion with the community stakeholders in this round about the kind of system enhancements you describe. I am not saying they aren’t needed in order to offer a good transit experience…they definitely are. Except maybe one…why not just take debit and credit (including prepaid debit) cards on the bus? I don’t want all the hard plastic in my wallet that’s there now and definitely don’t like carrying “special purpose” plastic. These multi-user payment systems already exist, including mobile-enabled ones.

        Occasionally IndyGo seems to me to be caught up in this endless loop of “we don’t have enough money to do everything we would like to do to improve the system, so we make sure we run as many buses as often as we can with the money that we have.”

    • Paul Lambie says:

      IndyGo is like a decade or more behind on just about everything. I noticed a schedule taped to the side of a bus schedule the other day. Not sure if IndyGo did it, or if it was a rogue/volunteer rider. Nonetheless, how do you not have the time/money to post schedules everywhere you have a shelter? Other cities have done it for many decades.

      Next, how do you not get the bus stops posted as “no parking”? It’s disgraceful to see buses stop in the street next to parked cars to dump riders off in the street, hopefully near an opening between parked cars.

      I could go on, but back on the topic of spending resources on “ridership” vs. “coverage”, I really don’t know the answer, based on the limited choices provided. When the current frequency on “high ridership” routes is lame, I certainly wouldn’t want to reduce frequency. But on the other hand, the current coverage area is so limited that it would border on unconscionable to further restrict the amount of places that folks can get to on the bus. Long story short, everyone here knows we need more frequency and more coverage, but I wouldn’t cut coverage to increase frequency on high ridership routes. I think the harm of trading away the access for the few in favor of providing a little more convenience to the many (a relative term given IndyGo usage) is not justified.

      • Paul Lambie says:

        Previous comment should read “a schedule taped to the side of a bus shelter”, not “taped to a bus schedule”.

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