Red Line For Rookies
(Photo Credit: IndyGo - @IndyGoBus)
The Red Line launches this Sunday, September 1st, and we need to be fully prepped on some of the traffic abnormalities the high speed bus service will bring. There are questions surrounding "bus only" lanes, street configurations, and riding the bus itself. So, in the name of safety, we're going to look at some of the trickier sections and intricacies of the Red Line route, in hopes of keeping the crash count to a minimum.
It's already been a harsh summer on the roads. Here's to bringing it down a bit.
THE RED LINE
Unless you’ve been living under an I-465 bridge the last few years, you’ve heard of the IndyGo Red Line that runs from 66th St. and College Ave. down to the University of Indianapolis.
A full trip on the Red Line makes a total of 28 stops along the route - looping in the Julia M. Carson Transit Center in beautiful downtown Indianapolis - and stretches a total of thirteen miles. The Red Line will run twenty hours a day with a bus arriving every ten to twenty minutes.
It should be noted that Red Line buses will adhere to the posted speed limit, and regular IndyGo buses will not run in the Red Line zones.
DRIVING THROUGH BUS LANES
Driving through the bus lane to turn and having permission to do so was a big thing for me. Probably too big. The answer is "yes," we can drive through the bus lane UNLESS we're crossing an elevated median to turn - like on Capitol, College, or Meridian. That's a big no-no, and so is camping in the lane and moving moving in and out all willy nilly. But crossing over through the lane is completely legal when turning off... say Washington St. or Maryland St. In this case, the bus lane is open to us, but we need to use it judiciously. Afterall, there will be buses there!
Washington St. onto Illinois St.
A bus lane now shares the outside turn lane from Washington St. to Illinois St. What do we do?!?! Well, we merge and turn… carefully.
It’s new and complicated, but not that hard. Just like before, cars can use both turn lanes to get onto Illinois, while the Red Line bus is relegated to the outside turn lane. The bus will not turn, because that's not where the Red Line goes, but instead continues straight on Washington.
When merging to turn, drivers should safely cross the broken stripe and into the appropriate lane.
***Note: Of course, watch out for buses when merging, otherwise you'll get hit.
Maryland St. onto Illinois St.
Here, a “bus only” lane is blocking the turn lane onto Illinois St. The street is different but the song remains the same. Spend as little time as possible in the bus lane, and carefully cross over and merge into the turn lane.
***Note: It’s still a good idea to watch out for buses when merging, otherwise you'll get hit.
Look at that! A passenger car and IndyGo bus cohabiting the road in peace and harmony. They’re probably in love.
MERGING ONTO CAPITOL AVE.
From WIBC Traffic on Facebook.
Moving past Nigel and Nigel’s mom, Red Line buses on Capitol Ave. will be running southbound with traffic, and northbound against traffic. This is a concern, considering we've already had two collisions between Red Line buses and passenger vehicles on Capitol Ave.
The problem is pulling out of alleys and side streets onto Capitol Ave. Back in the old days, we’d merge with southbound commuter traffic and... game over. With the Red Line, we have two additional bus lanes to worry about when merging onto the southbound one way.
Eck. For us to merge, the northbound bus lane has to be clear, the southbound has to be clear, and the southbound vehicular traffic has to clear. We REALLY have to pay attention to those bus lanes in avoiding becoming part of the Red Line instead of riding it.
Check out this video for a demonstration on how it’s supposed to go:
Another new caveat to driving on Capitol is dodging buses when turning into parking garages. Merge into the southbound bus lane (the left turn lane), make sure the northbound bus lane is clear of buses, then safely turn into your parking garage:
LEFT TURNS AND U-TURNS
Even though several left turns have been eliminated for Red Line bus traffic, drivers will be able to make u-turns at designated intersections. Just look for this sign:
So instead of turning left where you normally would, you can head to the next intersection - and if posted - make a u-turn.
Check it out:
Understandably so, people are worried that emergency vehicles won't be able to efficiently make calls with the Red Line buses taking up road space.
IndyGo and and emergency service partners (IMPD, EMS, etc.) have come up with a plan to keep everything flowing without too much consequence. Basically, if an emergency vehicle is approaching, we should do what we normally do - engage flashers and pull over to the right side of the road. The buses will also stop and put on their blinkers. If it’s safe and practical to inch up to the next stop, the bus will do so.
It goes like this:
The key is to STOP. According to emergency personnel, fire trucks and ambulances making a run have a better shot at maneuvering through traffic if it’s not moving. So we stop, chill, then off we go when the commotion is over.
As said, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police helped formulate this plan, so hopefully it will be adequate.
RIDING THE BUS
- Starting Sunday, the Red Line is free for the whole month, so hop on and ride until your legs are numb. There will also be live music at some stations as part of the opening day festivities.
- You can take your bike with you - each Red Line bus has docking stations for two bikes.
- No scooters on the bus! Leave the scooters in the White River (better yet, don’t leave the scooters in the White River, but they’re still abominations used incorrectly by lawbreakers).
A special “thank you” to IndyGo and Lauren Day, Director of Public Relations, for clearing up some things regarding travel and the Red Line itself. Also, IndyGo has provided a whole series of Red Line demonstration videos like the ones above. They’re really worth checking out, and it only takes a few minutes.
It’s a great little online community we have. Please drop by sometime.
Matt Bair is the new voice of Indianapolis traffic, and can be followed on Twitter @WIBCTraffic.. Fans of Facebook can "like" WIBC Traffic for the latest traffic happenings and occasional frivolity. Tips? Call direct at (317) 684-8134 or the 93 WIBC Newsroom at (317) 637-6397.