IndyGo to update Blue, Purple Lines progress

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Stephanie Whinthrop sat on a bench at the Julia Carson Transit Center downtown waiting on the number 10 bus to take her back home to East Washington Street.

She was thrilled to learn that IndyGo was holding a Blue Line public meeting Monday to update riders and the city on the progress toward improving the bus route that runs from county line-to-county line connecting Cumberland on the east to the Indianapolis International Airport on the west mostly along Washington Street.

“The ride’s not bad, it's just that I have a half-hour wait which is a lot for me and I have to ride the bus because I have seizures and I can’t get a drivers license so this is my only transportation,” Whinthrop said. “I am thrilled that they are planning to upgrade it to the Blue Line and have shorter wait times. It all sounds great to me.”

For a proposed $200 million the public transit corporation plans to fix sidewalks, curbs, pavement, storm water drainage and bus stops all along the route.

“The length is gonna be one of the longest bus rapid transit lines in the country and the infrastructure and work that has to be done is significantly higher than what we had to do with the Red Line,” according to IndyGo’s Lauren Day, who said the transit agency discovered a lot about building a massive system in an urban environment from the ongoing construction of the north-to-south Red Line which is set to be completed by the end of the summer.

“The stations will be the same design as you see with the Red Line that you can actually see up right now. Frequency is 10-minute service so it's really important on those high frequency routes where we have high ridership to bring the vehicles up every ten minutes. Some of the Purple and Blue Lines will be that bi-directional platform in the center of the road like you’re seeing on Meridian and Capitol and College where you’ll board from either direction on the same boarding platform.”

IndyGo will hold a similar public update on the Purple Line project Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. at the Avondale Meadows YMCA.

The Purple Line will extend from Lawrence to 38th Street and eventually to the transit center downtown at a cost of $140 million.

“We’ve applied for Small Starts grants for both the Purple and the Blue,” said Day. “They’ve both been ranked medium/high by the Federal Transit Administration ranking system so we should hear news about the Purple line by the end of this year or next year.”

If the federal government agrees to kick in 50% for each project, Purple Line construction could begin in 2020 with completion in 2022 and the Blue Line would be about a year behind.

By comparison, the federal government paid 80% of the Red Line’s projected $96.3 million budget.

In the fall of 2016, Marion County residents agreed to tax themselves $55 million a year to expand bus service throughout Indianapolis and its suburbs.

“That tax is going to help somebody like me who can’t drive and needs to get around anyway,” said Whinthrop as her bus arrived. “You’re helping me be able to get to doctor’s appointments, get grocery shopping, get everywhere I need to go. If it wasn’t for you I’d be stuck at home.”

Whinthrop then boarded her bus, told her fellow passengers about the IndyGo Blue Line public meeting and made plans to attend, if, she said, she could catch a ride.

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