How to get from Bloomington to Indianapolis, Chicago by bus
Bloomington offers several public transportation options for getting around the city, but some destinations are farther than an e-scooter or rideshare car can take you.
For students or residents looking to get away from it all, two bustling metropolitan cities perfect for low-cost vacations are nearby – just find a way to get there.
If you don’t have access to a reliable vehicle or just don’t want to rack up your mileage, there are several ways to get away from Bloomington and go shopping in Indianapolis or stroll Chicago’s Navy Pier. Bloomington has three intercity bus systems where passengers can schedule round trips to nearby bustling cities for less than $100.
A day trip to Indianapolis starting around $20
Indianapolis is a walkable city full of local shops and restaurants. For free or inexpensive entertainment, visitors can visit the wide range of museums or stop by the Indianapolis Zoo. History buffs can wander the cobbled streets to see the 19th century buildings of the Lockerbie Square District.
FlixBus, an international intercity bus service, has just added a connection from Bloomington where users can go to Indianapolis, Chicago or Lafayette. FlixBus users must purchase tickets in advance and meet at the Bloomington Transit Center. Ticket prices are $10.99 each way, with a flat $5 service charge. The bus will stop in Indianapolis on Washington Street between Alabama and Delaware streets, across from the Julia M. Carson Transit Center. The bus stop is adjacent to the Indianapolis Culture Trail near a bus shelter. Each trip takes approximately one hour and 15 minutes. People can take a ride on a FlixBus every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Riders can also use the Hoosier Ride system. Hoosier Ride Intercity Bus Service is operated by the Indiana Department of Transportation, Greyhound Lines and Miller Transportation and aims to connect rural areas to major cities. Tickets to Indianapolis start at $13 per day, plus a $6 service charge. Passengers will board at the Bloomington Transit Center and arrive at the Indianapolis Bus Terminal, 350 S. Illinois St.
If traditional bus systems aren’t what you’re looking for, passengers can use a shuttle system called GoExpress. This company has several shuttles that take passengers from Bloomington to Indianapolis International Airport. Shuttle locations in Bloomington include the Graduate Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, SpringHill Suites, Home2Suites, and Hyatt Place as well as a few locations on IU’s campus: McNutt Dorm, IU Memorial Union, and Willkie Dorm North. Bearing in mind that the airport is approximately seven miles southwest of the city center, passengers should arrange additional transport to get to the heart of the city. The cost is $29 each way.
A weekend in Chicago for around $60
Whether you like quirky art installations, rooftop bars, or paddle boarding, Chicago has plenty to offer for a quick three-day weekend trip.
Hoosier Ride offers bus rides to Chicago for $76 round trip. The bus will pick up passengers from the Bloomington Transit Center and drop them off at Chicago bus station630 W Harrison St. The trip takes 5-6 hours each way.
For around $67, FlixBus offers a round trip to Chicago. Ticket holders wait at the Route 7 Bloomington Transit bus stop on East Third Street across from the Bloomington Transit Center. Once in Chicago, the bus will stop on the east side of Canal Street between Van Buren Street and Jackson Boulevard, one block south of Union Station. It will also stop in front of the Divvy bike share station and next to the local CTA bus stop.
GoExpress previously provided private transportation for Indiana University Chicago students through private sedans, SUVs and vans. This service allowed students to travel according to their own schedules with door-to-door pickup and drop-off. However, this service, titled Chicagoland Express Shuttle, is not available this academic year.
Tickets for each intercity bus service can be purchased on their individual websites.
Rachel Smith covers Indiana University and student life for The Herald-Times. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @RachelSmithNews.