INDIANAPOLIS — Driving a bus the size those running on the Red Line is no easy task. The operators say it's you, the people in the cars, who can make the ride a little simpler.
IndyGo bus driver Christina Freeman is one of the drivers who helped launch the new Red Line bus system. Two weeks in and she's mastered the tight turns, busy streets and new bus stops, all while becoming a passenger favorite.
"Miss Christina is an awesome driver. I love her. She keep me going," Aaron Martin said.
While behind the wheel, Freeman has driven every inch of the 13-mile Red Line. She's witnessed it's greatest successes and problem areas, including on Capitol Avenue where buses and cars have collided multiple times. She said the solution is simple.
"Just pay attention. Use your defensive driving, not your regular driving if you're driving around the Red Line and look both ways," Freeman said.
Capitol Avenue has always been a one-way street, but now buses have their own lane running in the opposite direction. That change has caught some car drivers off-guard. Freeman said even if you see the bus coming, don't try to pull out in front of her 70,000-pound vehicle, unless there's plenty of room.
"The buses do not stop on the drop of a dime," she said. "We have to actually pump these brakes down. If we are going 30 down Capitol, it's gonna take us at least 3-to-5 seconds to stop. So by the time you pulled out and pulled in front of us, we done already hit you."
After weeks of practice, Freeman's driving skills show and she lines up with the elevated bus platform.
"Well that's because, I practiced and I drive this five days a week and when I was on the extra board, I did it six days a week all day," Freeman said. "You drive this more than you drive your car."
Freeman said just like she learned every stop and turn from inside the bus, drivers on the outside will get used to the Red Line and the new traffic patterns.
"It's the people. It's not the Red Line. The Red Line is smooth. It goes from one end of the city on the south side to the next end out north. It's smooth," she said.