As we approached the September launch of the IndyGo Red Line, I was hearing lots of murmurs—mostly in my own head—about how the grand opening weekend was going to go. Overall, it seemed successful—minus a few “uh-ohs.” IndyGo recorded nearly 64,000 riders on 8,200 trips during the first fully operational week of service. 

September has come and gone, and like many others around the city, some of us at Well Done are considering trading our car keys for bus seats. With the Fountain Square stop steps away from our front door, we decided to take a team outing to Quills, a local coffee shop.

The Experience.

If you’re planning on using Indy’s mass transit system, the first step is to download MyStop, IndyGo’s app that tracks all buses and routes while giving estimated arrival times. That makes it easy to estimate when you should pack up your laptop and head to your stop. 

Once the Jolly Green Giant that is an IndyGo Red Line bus arrives, hop on board and find an open seat or grab a handle. Careful if you end up with a foot on the platform where the bike locks are—it rotates when the bus turns. But you can also try to get a spot on it if you like that sort of thing, like our traffic manager Abbie Spahn.

Our determined-to-get-caffeine crew easily navigated the Red Line to get off at the correct stop, grabbed our coffees and teas, and headed back to the station to catch the next bus just in time. We found it convenient to use and took note of the coffee shops and restaurants along the way that would be perfect for working remotely or meeting a client. 

Useful or Not? That is the Question.

Our team would definitely consider using the rapid transit system to travel to client meetings, especially since many of them are located along the route. Our account service and creative teams could easily ditch their cars and take a bus to visit Lumina Foundation, The Villages, The Mind Trust, Families First, and others. Also, most of Indy’s major media outlets are located along the Red Line, making it convenient for our public relations team to set up meetings with reporters or clients for an in-studio television appearance.

Aside from an Instagrammable moment or anecdote for a blog, there are a number of long-term benefits to switching to mass transit. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transportation provides economic development opportunities, is safer, and can save you money. In fact, by riding the bus, a household could save $10,000 per year and a person can reduce their chances of an accident by more than 90%. With climate change top of mind, it’s also important to note that communities investing in mass transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.

While our experience was pleasant and efficient, there are still some issues to be resolved. One of our coworkers said it best: The average wait time on the weekends is too long. IndyGo is aware of the problem and is looking into what’s causing late pick-ups and overcrowding during weekend nights—and they’re working to get extra buses on routes during peak hours while hiring more drivers. 

The 13.1-mile route that runs from Broad Ripple at 66th Street to University of Indianapolis at Hanna Avenue expects a daily ridership of 11,000 now that they’re up and running. But we won’t know what true ridership looks like—or if IndyGo can match riders’ expectations—until mid-November, as IndyGo announced on September 27 the Red Line will remain free through November 10.

Admittedly a skeptic at first, I do believe the Red Line system is great for everyday users and weekend adventurers. Reduce your carbon footprint, save your gas money, and try the Red Line.