IndyGo seeks $ 65 million loan for Purple Line buses and new bus garage

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IndyGo needs to buy dozens of new buses for the incoming purple line, but no longer has room to accommodate them.

The transit agency is looking to borrow $ 65 million for improvement projects, including a new bus garage on its eastern campus and 30 new electric buses for its second bus rapid transit line.

The approval vote of the city’s municipal corporations committee last week was divided by 4 to 2, with opposing councilors concerned about the borrowing strategy and the diversion of taxpayer money to something other than debt. public safety and infrastructure.

Indianapolis: IndyGo gets $ 81 million from the federal government for the purple line. Here is how it will be spent.

The Indianapolis Bond Bank loan would be repaid over a period of up to 20 years with revenues from the Marion County local transportation tax, passed by referendum in 2016, which in 2018 brought in $ 51.8 million. dollars to IndyGo and in 2021, a planned amount of $ 63.5 million.

IndyGo has two other outstanding bonds: $ 19.2 million remaining from a 2018 bond for purple and blue line design services, paratransit infrastructure and bus fleet replacement, which will be paid. in 2028; and a $ 20.1 million bond taken this year for the purchase of 27 hybrid buses to be paid in 2033.

IndyGo’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve the loan at its board meeting on October 28. It goes to the entire city-county council for a vote on Dec.6.

The agency hopes the bond will help meet a list of project needs totaling more than $ 100 million, including the new garage and buses, upgrades to its paratransit facility, and disinfection technology. air for buses.

IndyGo is looking for other sources to make up the difference, said CFO Bart Brown. If they can’t find it through federal grants or other bond issues, he said, they will prioritize electric buses and the East Campus bus garage.

“Right now, today, we’re full,” Brown told advisers. “It is essential that we build a new facility for the buses.”

Since the pandemic, IndyGo has received $ 115 in federal aid, of which it has so far spent $ 7.5 million. The agency plans to leverage this federal aid to close projected revenue shortfalls and create balanced budgets until 2026, when it expects passenger revenues to rebound as the three bus rapid transit lines will be in service.

As long as the agency doesn’t have to purchase more facilities during that time, it hopes to have balanced budgets afterwards, Brown said.

“This concerns me very much. There are a few assumptions in this situation,” said Councilor Michael Paul-Hart, referring to the reliance on the one-time federal stimulus and assumptions on the operating revenues of the lines. purple and blue, given the ridership trends on the red line.

Last September, the red line served about a third of the number of trips it served in September 2019, the first month of its opening. However, Red Line’s ridership data is marred by the pandemic and the first few months of free pricing. IndyGo does not expect ridership to fully rebound from the pandemic until the end of 2022, according to the 2022 budget.

Read: IndyGo’s red line is now 2 years old. Here’s how many people are using it.

“The red line itself suffers the same way as any other route because the passengers just haven’t come back,” Brown said. “We can’t predict the future, but when we build the BRT (bus rapid transit), all of our projections – and these are solid projections – feel that we’re going to recover and add passengers. We are banking on that, and I think bondholders will also be confident. “

Councilor Josh Bain said he voted “no” because he believes any money coming from the city should go to two priorities: public safety and infrastructure.

IndyGo CEO Inez Evans argued that public transit is a proponent of public safety because it gives people access to jobs, food and education. More than half of the $ 160 million Purple Line project will be used to improve infrastructure, such as lighting, sidewalks and crosswalks.


Renovations of the East Campus (9503 E. 33rd Street)

  • What: A new two-story garage that can hold 150 buses, as well as improvements to furniture, fixtures and equipment for two buildings
  • Cost: $ 35 million for the garage, $ 6.4 million for building improvements
  • Why: IndyGo’s main campus at 1501 W. Washington St lacks space for buses. The eastern campus is used to train bus operators, and IndyGo plans to move the administrative team there in the first quarter of 2022 when renovations to the first building are completed, spokesperson Carrie Black said. .

New electric buses

  • What: IndyGo needs 30 60-foot electric buses to service the incoming purple line. He wants to order 28 this year.
  • Cost: $ 42 million
  • Why: The construction of the purple line is underway.

Upgrade the Computer Assisted Dispatch System

  • This is the software that tracks bus deployment and data.
  • Cost: $ 10 million

Construction of the rural street underpass

  • What: IndyGo wants to lower the roadway on Rural Street under the crossing on the east side.
  • Cost: $ 6.6 million
  • Why: IndyGo buses cannot go through the underpass. They make a detour of a mile and a half to avoid it. However, this road will soon serve the new community justice center. The Marion County transit plan calls for 15-minute intervals for service on this route, while buses currently hit 30-minute intervals. IndyGo estimates that it would cost them an additional $ 750,000 per year to complete 15-minute intervals while making the detour.

Renovation of mobility service facilities (2425 Michigan Street West)

  • What: Modernization of the IndyGo paratransit facility and construction of a vehicle storage building for the paratransit fleet.
  • Cost: $ 4.5 million

UV-C lighting for bus fleet

  • What: equip all buses with UV-C air disinfection technology
  • Cost: $ 2.9 million
  • Why: To make cyclists feel more comfortable in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact IndyStar transport reporter Kayla Dwyer at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ kayla_dwyer17.

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