The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (dba IndyGo) prepared for months to offer efficient and economical travel throughout the city for the weeks leading up to the big game and the results included increased ridership on fixed route and paratransit services, which were on detour January 27-February 5. In addition to the detour preparation, IndyGo offered free rides February 2–5, funded by a Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) federal grant.
IndyGo's planning included a downtown detour with Ohio Street as the main transfer hub. Working with the local organizing committee, IndyGo's messaging supported the Know Before You Go campaign and launched public information as early as mid-December. In order to prepare existing passengers, but also appeal to commuters, volunteers and visitors, advertising started in mid-January to coincide with special signage along Ohio Street. Internally, IndyGo prepared a training strategy for more than 300 professional coach operators including detour briefing and customer service training.
In addition to signage and advertising, IndyGo.net had detour information including a new Google Quick Trip planner and all of IndyGo's customer service center representatives completed Super Service online training. Both resources realized record usage over the 10-day event duration.
Local fixed route ridership surpassed expectations throughout the entire detour period with a 39 percent increase over average ridership (325,212 total rides over 10 days). The four free ride days delivered an impressive 142,456 passenger trips. The Green Line Downtown/Airport Express saw dramatic increases intermittently throughout the week.
In order to accommodate the crowds on fixed route service, additional buses were used. At its peak, there were 28 additional buses assisting routes on Saturday, February 4. Open Door, IndyGo's ADA paratransit service, had a 6 percent increase in ridership with an on-time performance rate of 98 percent.
Inquiries, both through the IndyGo.net and the call center (317.635.3344) had increases over normal daily usage. Typical website inquiries average 2,000 daily visits, but during the detour period there were multiple days where visits exceeded 6,000 to 8,000 visits. At its peak, IndyGo.net had 12,440 visits on Friday, February 3. The IndyGo call center had a 53 percent increase in call volumes with a total of 19,713 calls.
"I am so proud of the entire IndyGo team," says Mike Terry, president and CEO. "We were able to plan and deliver service to the best of our abilities and resources without any increases in operational funding."
With ridership increasing more than 10 percent in 2011 and heavy ridership for the Super Bowl activities, the demand for public transportation in Indianapolis is growing.
"Should a sustainable increase in funding occur, our service will be even better prepared to handle these prestigious events," says Terry. "With an increase in buses, additional operators and real-time schedule information, our community will be even more competitive in the event and tourism market, not to mention more attractive to local commuters."