Red Line ridership down nearly 50% despite overall increase in IndyGo passengers

Red Line ridership down nearly 50%

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Monthly Red Line ridership declined nearly 50% from Sept. to Dec. 2019, according to figures released Thursday by IndyGo.

The data revealed a steady decline in ridership each month since the bus line’s launch, refuting the transit agency’s theory that fare collection and winter were responsible for the dip in numbers.

Although the factors noted by IndyGo likely contributed to a ridership loss exceeding 25% from Nov. to Dec. 2019, ridership began decreasing in the fall, before the Red Line’s free fare period ended Nov. 30, 2019.

IndyGo tracks the number of monthly “boardings” on each of its bus routes with “automatic passenger counters,” according to the agency. 

Two boardings generally indicate one passenger. IndyGo’s tracking system calls for each person to be counted once when they get on a bus and once when they get off.

However, monthly Red Line boardings published by IndyGo in board meeting documents obtained by News 8 were all odd numbers, indicating passenger counting errors — or suggesting people had boarded buses and never exited.

2019 RED LINE BOARDINGS (Source: IndyGo)
September: 246,369
October: 207,241
November: 179,757
December: 130,015

2019 RED LINE RIDERSHIP (News 8 rounded up when calculating approximate ridership with IndyGo’s boarding data)
September: 123,185
October: 103,621
November: 89,879
December: 65,008

IndyGo representatives declined News 8’s interview request but touted Red Line service improvements in an emailed statement.

“Ridership is up, network-wide, about 2%,” IndyGo spokesperson Lesley Gordon wrote. “Red Line is a portion of the entire system and is designed to work alongside the upcoming improvements planned, including route changes, Purple Line and Blue Line. Red Line is experiencing some leveling off that was anticipated, with December being the first month of full fare and [us] knowing ridership dips in the winter. Overall, we are seeing better and more frequent service to our customers and that is the goal.”