Interstate bus service is now available

Public-private partners offer rides connected to city bus routes.

South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

Local residents wanting to travel to Kalamazoo, Indianapolis or several other cities now have another option with the introduction of an intercity bus service connecting more than 30 communities in Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky.

The result of a public-private partnership between the Indiana Department of Transportation, Miller Trailways and Greyhound Lines Inc., Hoosier Ride includes five regional routes that also enable passengers to connect to existing Greyhound and Amtrak sites.

“For small- and medium-sized Indiana cities, Hoosier Ride helps fill the gap between local transit operators, such as the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and Transpo, with national public transportation offered by Greyhound, Amtrak and others,” said Will Wingfield, an InDOT spokesman.

The service, which began in January, is an attempt to provide more efficient, cost-effective transportation throughout Indiana, specifically to Indianapolis.

Miller Trailways “recognized that in 2005 when service was discontinued to Indianapolis, Indiana, residents lost a lifeline in many of these rural areas,” said Reginald Addy, director of business and administration for Miller Trailways. “Indiana wanted to offer the service for a while but no operators wanted to step forward because it’s a big undertaking. (Miller Trailways) realized now was the time to give these residents … that access.”

Hoosier Ride uses Miller Trailways’ charter buses for all operations throughout Indiana.

For Michiana area residents, Hoosier Ride is accessible via the Kalamazoo to Indianapolis route, which stops at the Elkhart Greyhound bus station and the South Bend Regional Airport once a day.

Hoosier Ride arrives in Elkhart at 2:20 p.m. every day and continues on to South Bend, arriving at 3 p.m. The bus arrives at the Indianapolis Greyhound bus station at 5:45 p.m.

“Primarily, Hoosier Ride provides a direct service to Indianapolis. Prior to that people had to go to Chicago or Detroit to get to Indianapolis,” Addy said. Hoosier Ride “turns a ride that could be upwards of five or six hours into a normal ride of two or three.”

Ticket prices vary depending on length of travel, day of service and time of purchase, with discounts available for online and advanced purchases.

A same-day, online purchase for a one-way ticket from South Bend to Indianapolis costs $50. The same ticket would cost $40 if purchased seven days in advance and $32 if purchased 14 days in advance, Addy said.

Partial funding for the transportation initiative comes from a $2 million Federal Rural Transit grant, and Greyhound provides a match to the government funding using Greyhound revenue from tickets purchased in conjunction with the Hoosier Ride.

Though Hoosier Ride has been in operation for several months, Miller Trailways and InDOT are preparing for the “grand opening” this month, Wingfield said.

“We wanted to do a soft rollout to work out all the kinks,” Addy said. “We wanted to make sure people could make their connections before we introduced it to the masses.”

But Addy is confident the bus service will provide a successful transportation option for Indiana residents.

“The purpose is to enhance the opportunities that all people in Indiana have, promoting quality of life and growth of the economy in Indiana,” Addy said. Hoosier Ride “works in conjunction with (other transportation services) … focusing on providing transportation options to the traveling public.”

“Intercity bus service is economical, fuel efficient and provides an important travel option for families, senior citizens, students who don’t drive, are without a personal vehicle, or just want to sit back and enjoy the ride,” Addy said in a written statement released last week.

Staff writer Ann-Marie Woods:

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