IndyGo Resembles a Bus Crash Scene

This IndyGo dealio is really like watching a bus collide with another bus:

They showed that routes the agency plans to cut — the 11, 55 and 87 — have among the lowest ridership of all 29 routes.

They explained that the door-to-door paratransit service, known as Open Door, is far more expensive to operate than fixed-route service — $35 per passenger versus about $4.

Well. There’s yer problem, son. IndyGo’s average rider fare is $1.75. They want to raise it $2. That means they’re, uh, still $2 short. If it costs $4 per passenger to operate the system, I’d be charging $4 a rider!

Assuming a person were to drive from one end of Marion County to Downtown, that’d be about 11 miles. The average cost-per-mile to include wear-and-tear, gas, oil, insurance, etc. is 50 cents a mile. That’s $5.50, or $11.00 round-trip by car. A bus fare would be $8, round-trip at the full cost to the rider, which is still a net savings of $3 for the rider to take the bus.

Heck, they could raise the fares to $3 a trip and there’d be even more savings for the rider vs. driving a car and they’d close their budget cap overnight. Or, you could subsidize some riders and not others. They’re a number of riders that take the bus because they can’t drive — maybe they have DUIs, seizures, want to be eco-friendly or are just plain afraid to get in a car. They may likely be perfectly capable of affording a car, but can’t or just don’t want to drive one. In which case, charge them $4 a ride and the poor folks can get a $3 fare.

Somehow, though, that was lost among those at the public hearing:

“It took me an hour and a half to get from my house to Washington (Street to catch the bus),” said regular IndyGo rider Nora Wright, her voice shaking with anger. “I don’t think that’s right.”

Then came the personal attacks and accusations.

“Thank you for lying to us all!” one person yelled toward a table where IndyGo employees were seated.

Another man, shouting at Terry, demanded to know: “What kind of car do you drive?” (Terry said he hasn’t owned a car since the 1990s.)

She’s right — that’s not right. IndyGo needs to beef up and attract more riders. They do that by improving service and adding busses to make it more convenient and faster. A 10 minute car trip takes 40 minutes by bus, if you’re lucky enough to live and work close to the stops. And you fix these problems by generating revenue. They can’t look to the government for funding — there isn’t any. Alas, raise the fares on a tiered system to provide better service, get people where they need to go and all the while helping those less fortunate.

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