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Bus Rapid Transit Gains Traction in Indi­anapo­lis

Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
CDM Smith is helping IndyGo design one of America's first all-electric bus rapid transit systems, which will provide more convenience and greater reliability to riders.

In Indianapolis, transit riders who live and work along one of the city’s densest corridors can look forward to 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 50,000 residents and 150,000 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.

federal Small Starts grant
mile corridor
residents served on route

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 is set to be the first delivered under IndyGo’s transit plan. "The Red Line will be the spine of the corridor,” said Steve Goodreau, CDM Smith principal project manager, “supporting a full BRT network in Indi­anapo­lis.” Goodreau said that the city’s major goals 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 was looking for a creative solution to rein­vig­o­rate transit and provide more frequent, reliable service,” he said.

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 starting in 2018. 

In addition to being the state’s first BRT system, the Red Line is one of the first BRT routes in the country to feature all-electric buses. These battery-equipped buses will be signif­i­cantly quieter than regular ones, will release zero emissions, and will only require charging at night when not in service. Their route will start 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 will also feature one of the longest bi-directional bus lane segments in the country. In this corridor segment, buses will share a single lane. Traffic signal prior­i­ti­za­tion technology will detect 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," explained Goodreau. "By designing in a bi-directional lane and applying the right technology, we were able to maintain bus speeds and meet the community’s needs."

 Our team is excited to have designed a system that will truly work for the public and metro­pol­i­tan area and move people better.
Steve Goodreau, CDM Smith project manager

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 Goodreau, the success of the project to date has centered on the strong partnerships between all stakeholders. “What has been really great has been working with IndyGo, the city and all the stakeholders. They work as a tight-knit community, which has allowed us to do some creative things with the project and to help BRT take a significant step forward.” Reflecting on the vision Indianapolis and IndyGo set for the project, he said, “Our team is excited to have designed a system that will truly work for the public and metropolitan area and that will ultimately move people better.”

Steve Goodreau Steve Goodreau
The Red Line will be the spine of the corridor, supporting a full bus rapid transit network in Indianapolis.
Did you know?

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.

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