INDIANAPOLIS — IndyGo says ridership numbers are rebounding post pandemic, as the city opens back up. Students are back to school, and more people are going back to work into the office. But as the buses get more packed, riders might also experience some delays.
Last Friday, DeMarcus Hazelwood was catching the #8 bus off of Washington & Rural heading into downtown.
“The bus was packed with school students,” he said. “I mean standing room only.”
So packed, Hazelwood said, “I start to get on the bus and the driver, coach operator, tells me that I’m not allowed on the bus. Her bus is out of service.”
He along with other IndyGo riders hoping to get on were told it was too full and they’d have to wait for the next one.
“There was four people on there waiting to go to work for their evening shift,” Hazelwood said. “Now they’re waiting for, actually the guy said this was the third bus that he has to wait on.”
Hazelwood said this is becoming a problem, and IndyGo needs more buses.
“This is totally ridiculous,” he said. “IndyGo already knows that if the buses are getting that full, they have real time to know how many people are on the bus and how many people are not on a bus.”
“You have the kids learning in-person, people coming back to work in the office and all that means more riders for IndyGo,” said Carrie Black, IndyGo Director of Communications.
Carrie Black with IndyGo is encouraging riders to plan ahead and add extra time to get to school or work. The bus service now transports a new cohort of about 200 IPS students who use IndyGo as their sole transportation. About 1,500 high school students in Indianapolis now use IndyGo to get to and from school, spanning five school districts.
“Our students do not receive priority seating,” Black said. “With IndyGo, with public transit in general, it’s first come first serve.”
Black said it’s not unusual for this Route 8 bus to be full, and they’re working on a long term fix.
“It is one of our busiest rounds, highest ridership in the city,” Black explained. “It also happens to be the side of our future blue line which is a bus rapid transit that will be launching in the last couple of years. So, this right here really emphasizes the need for the bus rapid transit along that Corridor because it’s going to be more frequent buses, it’s going to mean larger buses, so we are going to be able to transport more people faster.”
IndyGo says they’re not in a position to alter the route at this point. They have the buses running as frequently as they can. But once the blue line launches, riders along that route will see a great deal of relief with buses almost twice as large as the current buses and coming more frequently.