Today’s arrival of October originally meant people would start paying to ride on the city’s first rapid mass transit system, the Red Line.
Not so. Glitches in the plan to activate the new ticketing machines used by the Red Line has caused IndyGo to extend the time residents and visitors can ride the rapid transit line for free to Sunday, Nov. 10.
In last week’s announcement, IndyGo officials also said problems some riders have had with the Red Line experience during the first month of use also played into their decision to extend the free period.
It recently became clear that new ticketing machines for the Red Line would not be fully operational by an agreed-upon deadline. IndyGo recently awarded a contract to technology vendor, Flowbird Group, to modernize its fare system. The account-based fare system is intended to integrate a mobile application, a public-facing website, reloadable fare cards, ticket vending machines, fare enforcement and citation management.
As of late September, ticket vending machines are unable to accept bills for cash transactions, and the user interface for administering the fare system is behind schedule. Due to these project delays, IndyGo is unable to launch the new fare technology, and therefore cannot begin collecting fares on the Red Line by Oct. 1.
IndyGo officials said they will work with the vendor to ensure the project is delivered, while enforcing the contract and holding Flowbird accountable for losses. Based on the vendor’s current timeline and a period for public education, fully functional ticket vending machines, mobile application and back-end customer management systems are anticipated to be ready for launch Nov. 10.
“We are collaborating proactively with Flowbird and are optimistic the new machines will be up-and-running soon,” said Justin Stuehrenberg, IndyGo’s vice president of planning and capital projects. “At the same time, we’ve made it clear to the company they must be accountable to our contract. The delay, in conjunction with various operational issues, caused us to rethink the decision to begin charging for Red Line rides in October. New routes, systems and technology are bound to create new challenges, but we will not allow those challenges to impact long-term ridership experience and IndyGo’s commitment to exceptional customer service.”
Since opening on Sept. 1, IndyGo officials reported that the Red Line has received overwhelming public interest with people boarding the service more than 64,000 times in the opening week. “We are thrilled to see such a positive response to the Red Line launch,” said Juan Gonzalez, chairman of the board for IndyGo. “These early ridership numbers send a clear signal that there is interest and demand for frequent, reliable transit service. We appreciate everyone’s patience as new operational components and processes are optimized.”