INDIANAPOLIS — The end of Amtrak's Hoosier State train from Indianapolis-to-Chicago is near; however, a new transportation system is on its way from the east coast for a trial run throughout the rest of summer.
From Monday, July 1 through Monday, September 2, the New York based-company, OurBus, will run from Indianapolis to Chicago every day with ticket prices being $10 per rider.
"The co-founder of OurBus, Axel Hellman, says to think of his company as being like 'Uber' or 'Airbnb' in that they facilitate rides but don't own the buses themselves. They also crowdsource, creating routes based on customer feedback and needs."
The OurBus route from Indianapolis-to-Chicago will start in Downtown Indianapolis across the street from the IndyGo Transit Center, then makes two stops, one in Zionsville and one in Lafayette, then finishes on Jackson Boulevard, between Canal Street and the Chicago River.
Indianapolis and Chicago - SEE YOU SOON!— OurBus (@RideOurBus) June 25, 2019
Starting July 1st, we're taking over Amtrak's Hoosier State train, with daily routes. Stops include:
- Chicago, IL
- Lafayette, IN
- Zionsville, IN
- Indianapolis, IN
Book now for our special promo rate of ONLY $10! pic.twitter.com/9SqTM4vmtp
The beauty of OurBus is it runs on requests. According to Hellman, if at least 100 people request a stop, for example, in Crawfordsville, a stop will be added.
"We would have to see a need," Hellman said. "If enough people request a stop, we will add it."
Hellman says his company saw a need to make a stop in Zionsville during the trial run, for urbanites who don't particularly want to go into Indianapolis before heading to Chicago — in essence, backtracking.
Amtrak's Hoosier State line made stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer, and Dyer, before entering Union Station in Chicago. That route took anywhere from four to five hours to complete, according to Amtrak's online route schedule. To where OurBus' current course is estimated to take about three hours.
"What we heard was that one of the Hoosier State's biggest problems was service reliability. It was frequently delayed by freight trains. Another was the long travel time from Indianapolis to Chicago," Hellman said. A bus will be faster, and when there is traffic in Chicago, at least it's predictable."
How To Request A Stop
1. Visit the OurBus website or app
2. Click on 'Request a route'
3. Put in your details
OurBus outsources with tour companies who provide the buses, while OurBus handles the day-to-day operations (similar to Airbnb and Uber), customer service and tickets.
OurBus will be partnering with Gold Shield Cars, based in Indianapolis, for the summer 2019 test run. According to Gold Shield's website, the luxury fleet has TVs, WiFi, bathrooms, high-end interior, and more.
"OurBus partners with local bus and shuttle companies in each area we work in," Hellman said. "Gold Shield provides the bus and driver, and OurBus sells the tickets, handles marketing and customer service, and schedule planning. Not only does this model make it quicker and more efficient to start new routes, but it also ensures that bus revenue stays local and goes back into the communities we serve."
The daily Amtrak Hoosier State line is set to have its last scheduled runs on Sunday. The trains have been running since Oct. 1, 1980 thanks to federal initiatives from Sen. Birch Bayh. Due to the elimination of state funding, the trains services have to stop under a 2008 federal law.
On Monday the service provided will only be six trains a week, three in each direction, according to Amtrak's Media Relations.
"There will be no Amtrak trains on this route from Chicago on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays; and no Amtrak trains from Indianapolis on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Fridays. Additional daily service by Amtrak Thruway Buses will be available at Chicago, Lafayette, and Indianapolis," Marc Magliari, with Amtrak Media Relations, said.
Hoosiers and Chicagoans have a chance to bring in a new and receptive line of commute starting as soon as the following day.
"The schedule will start with one bus a day, but if we see that that one bus is consistently filling up, we would add a second, and if the second one fills up, we would add a third, and so on," Hellman said.
OurBus does not have a specific number they are seeking to officially start a line from Indianapolis to Chicago, but simply has to see a need.