INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– As 60-foot long articulated buses hit the 13-mile Red Line route for training, IndyGo has unveiled its updated public safety response plan along the north-south corridor from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis.
The plan is an update to an earlier version that was released last winter and the result of additional talks between IndyGo, IFD, IMPD and IEMS to provide for the safe transit of emergency vehicles on finite stretches of pavement now crowded with dedicated bus lanes and new bus stations.
“They have responded, there was a little give and take, and we would use bus lanes as a travel lane if necessary,” said IFD Deputy Chief Joe Krebsbach.
IndyGo animation videos from last winter portrayed an ambulance sometimes coming head on at Red Line buses and choosing which lanes to traverse around the stopped electric vehicles.
New animations don’t preclude that possibility but show viewers of the IndyGo website buses stopped at mid-street stations, motorists pulling to the curbs and fire trucks traveling in bus-only lanes to get by in an emergency.
“In this case on College, and throughout the entire Red Line corridor, when a Red Line bus sees a fire apparatus, ambulance or police car, they are to stop in their lane of travel, turn their four-way flashers on and let us pick the route around them,” said Krebsbach. “There will be times when College or 38th Street or Meridian or Virginia Avenue or Shelby Street will be closed and they will understand that our focus at that time won’t be on the bus lane but the people in that residence that need our help.”
The Red Line route narrows to two lanes with a parallel bike path on Shelby Street south of Fountain Square.
Along College Avenue, buses will jockey for space with motorists, delivery trucks, trash haulers and fire apparatus responding from IFD Station #31 along a route which could force Red Line drivers to detour down residential side streets to avoid emergency response congestion.
“They will find the next major intersections, so in order for the buses to move about, they really need larger streets than neighborhood streets to move so our operations team has detours planned,” said IndyGo Spokeswoman Lauren Day.
Motorists will confront a confusing array of signs and pavement markings along the route and at 42nd Street and College Avenue. Today, drivers were caught in mid-intersection making uncertain left turns, illegal u-turns and mid-block turns that bumped vehicles up over a short berm separating the northbound and southbound lanes.
Today was also the first day for IndyGo drivers to take their new buses out for training runs along the route while minor punch out list work continues on many of the Red Line’s 34 stops.
“The whole month of August is training for our operators and a good time for drivers to learn what the pavement markings look like, what does the signage mean,” said Day.
IMPD commanders will meet Friday to develop protocols for officers who will drive their patrol cars in emergency responses along the Red Line route.
Day said IndyGo has reached its goal of hiring 300 new employees to staff the bus rapid transit system.
Eventually the bus company expects 11,000 passengers a day will ride the route.