Catherine Swanson, 73, relies on IndyGo to get around town. Before the pandemic, she was riding every day.
“I go downtown. I have doctors on the west side,” Swanson said. “I go north, and I go to Keystone. Sometimes I go to Nora, so I have a pretty wide range.”
But after IndyGo’s announcement that 544 bus stops would be removed starting Sept. 14, Swanson, like many other riders, are unsure about how they’ll get to where they need to go.
“I’m a retired social worker, so I know that this is about more than just me,” Swanson said. “Yes, I do have difficulty walking and am visually impaired, but there are people who have to put kids in the stroller and go buy groceries, and in the winter when people haven’t cleared the snow off sidewalks … to move the stop for a person like that is going to be a big deal.”
Faith Chadwick, public information officer for IndyGo, said roughly 60% of the stops removed had two or fewer boardings a day. Further, Chadwick said the extra distance for those affected by stop removals will be no more a quarter of a mile — or about five extra minutes added to a commute.
“The reason we’re doing this is basically to make travel by bus more efficient for riders,” Chadwick said. “It’s like if you’re driving down the street, and you have to stop at a red light every single block, it takes you a long time to get where you need to go. The areas where stops are removed, they were way too close together.”
For those with difficulty walking, IndyGo offers Open Door, a paratransit service that gives riders a specific time to be picked up and dropped off. Chadwick said there is an application and certain criteria for Open Door, and that riders should use the IndyGo website to determine if they qualify.
Despite this accommodation, Swanson doesn’t believe individuals with disabilities were top of mind when the decision to cut stops was made.
“I don’t get the impression that they think about those things,” Swanson said. “I don’t want to go on record saying they don’t care, but I’ve been riding IndyGo for 30 years, and I’ve never had the feeling that my situation was of concern to them.”
Chadwick said several factors, including existing pedestrian infrastructure, organizations around the bus stops — such as community centers and hospitals — the routes that serve the stops and ridership were all taken into consideration before the decision to remove stops was made.
Stickers are already being put on bus stop signs indicating the stops will be removed in the coming months, and Chadwick said there are tools on the website to let riders know if their stop will be removed, and what an alternate bus would be.
“Overall, this project is intended to make it more efficient to ride the bus,” Chadwick said. “We wanted to make travel time smoother and speed up the service.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.
IndyGo bus riderJeremy D. Meier