Indianapolis’s IndyGo is offering free bus rides all week to celebrate the opening of a new $26.5 million transit center, reports WISHTV. The Julia M. Carson Transit Center features an air-conditioned (or heated) waiting room with free WiFi and 19 covered bus bays with real-time bus arrival and departure information. The building makes prominent use of recycled materials, LED lighting and curbside rain gardens, and is seeking LEED Silver certification. Rides are free until July 4, and bus riders will also be treated to performances by local artists both at the hub and at various downtown stops.
The brand-new facility is receiving glowing reviews from bus riders, who say it’s a huge improvement over the place where many IndyGo bus lines previously converged: an open-air bus stop in front of the federal courthouse, with few benches and many loiterers.
One bus rider told the Indy Star the new transit center is “a lot cleaner, not as crowded, and you don’t have all the people hanging around, bumming, sleeping. The signs here show you where to go. It is more efficient.”
The buses should also save time because they will not need to circle around downtown before making their return trips. And riders should have an easier time transferring between the 27 different routes that pull into the transit center. As many as 7,000 commuters passed through during the first evening rush hour, said an IndyGo spokesperson, with just a few kinks. The interactive status boards weren’t displaying where individual buses were and when there were arriving, but the departure times were working fine.
“Like anything new, it will take some getting used to, but I think overall things are running extremely smoothly,” said IndyGo President Michael Terry.
Other IndyGo officials told FOX59 they believe the transit center is just the first step in not only making ridership easier, but increasing transit use in years to come. “We have a different community than we’ve ever had and the demand for downtown living is at an all-time high. Transit plays a role in that and we want to continue to see that further development,” said one official.
Riders wait to board buses at the new Transit Center! pic.twitter.com/Dqh3lnNdb3— IndyGo (@IndyGoBus) June 26, 2016
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.