Bus Rapid Transit Gains Traction in Indianapolis
In Indianapolis, transit riders who live and work along one of the city’s densest corridors will experience shorter wait times at the bus stop and more reliable trips between work and home thanks to the Red Line bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The system is a product of the city and the Indianapolis Public Transit Corporation (IndyGo) seeking to improve transit service on a critical 13.1-mile north-south corridor that serves 5,000 residents and 50,000 jobs and connects residents to key employment hubs, educational and shopping centers. To help achieve this vision of improved mobility, IndyGo hired CDM Smith to design an innovative, cutting-edge and environmentally responsible BRT system.
Innovation in Indy
As the first of several major rapid transit lines IndyGo has planned—the others including the Blue and Purple lines—the Red Line was delivered under IndyGo’s transit plan. The Red Line will serve as the spine of the corridor, supporting a full BRT network in Indianapolis. The city’s major goals with the project were to increase system capacity and stimulate economic development along the Red Line’s route, while maintaining the capacity to support future growth. The community, meanwhile, was looking for a creative solution to reinvigorate transit and provide more frequent, reliable service.
CDM Smith’s transit team was involved from the onset of the project, completing National Environmental Policy Act documentation and preliminary engineering, as well grant writing support for IndyGo’s successful Federal Transit Administration Small Starts application, which proposes $75 million in federal funds for construction. The CDM Smith team also performed traffic modeling and delivered final design services in advance of construction.
In addition to being the state’s first BRT system, the Red Line is also one of the first BRT routes in the country to feature all-electric buses. These battery-equipped buses are significantly quieter than regular ones, release zero emissions and only require charging at night when not in service. Their route starts in Broad Ripple, moving downtown, and ending at the University of Indianapolis, offering quick access to major institutions such as Eli Lilly and Company and Ivy Tech Community College. More than half of the bus route consists of dedicated lanes that separate the buses from traffic to eliminate mixed-traffic congestion, especially important during rush hour.
The Red Line also features one of the longest bi-directional bus lane segments in the country. In this corridor segment, buses share a single lane. Traffic signal prioritization technology detects lane availability, signaling to the buses when it is safe to proceed and stopping them at holding points when the lane is in use. Keeping parking lanes was a must for the community, so by designing in a bi-directional lane and applying the right technology, CDM Smith's team was able to maintain bus speeds and meet the community’s needs.
A Smarter Way to Move People
The Red Line represents a smart public transportation solution that will improve mobility standards for Indianapolis, providing efficient service to more than 50,000 residents within walking distance of the BRT’s 28 planned stations and stimulating transit-oriented development on the corridor. For CDM Smith's team, the success of the project centered on the strong partnerships between all stakeholders, including IndyGo, the city, its partners and the surrounding communities. With the Red Line, which opened in September 2019, Indianapolis is achieving its vision, providing high-quality transit service the moves people better.
IndyGo's Red Line bus rapid transit system is the first all-electric, battery-powered bus system in Indiana and one of the first in America.