Lost funding puts brakes on commuter buses

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The expiration of a federal grant will halt a popular suburban commuter bus service at year’s end, but transit advocates say it may be just a temporary stoppage.

Launched a few years ago, the IndyGo Commuter Express routes from Fishers and Carmel to downtown Indianapolis get 80 percent of their funding from a Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant that will be depleted by the end of the year. The service has annual expenses of just over $1 million.

Other funding comes from $3-per-trip fares, and ridership has been strong enough to pay the local match to the federal grant solely through those fares, without the municipalities chipping in. During the course of operation, the routes have provided about 445,000 trips.

But without additional subsidy, the cost of providing that service would be placed on riders, who would face fares of between $7 and $9.

IndyGo and the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority are optimistic they can find other funding sources. CIRTA is looking at other grants, among them federal funding that helps pay for so-called reverse commuting in which workers leave the city for work in the suburbs, but that also would require cash-tight municipalities to contribute.

“All indications point to a likelihood that a new federal grant will be matched with local public and private dollars, and a new commuter express service will evolve in the near future,” Ehren Bingaman, executive director for CIRTA, said in a news release.

He said the group hoped to have details confirmed and would provide more information by the end of the year.


  • Buses
    I work for the company that actually operates this service. While we're talking about funding, let's also include the dozen or so jobs that are directly involved with this operation - and, no, they're not $500k/yr by any stretch. What CIRTA should be doing is looking at the additional locales which could benefit from this service. I'd note that the attempt to the south wasn't as successful (Greenwood) as the Northeast Corridor. Whether Greenfield would use the service is anyone's guess, as would be Mooresville, Plainfield, Danville, Brownsburg, or Zionsville. These questions also are the ones the proposed commuter rail service has to be able to address and answer, of course.
  • I would rather....
    subsidize mass transit than "Palaces for the rich," downtown (Lucas Oil) that I will never see the inside of.
  • Sick-n-tired...
    I'm tired of my gas-tax money subsidizing the highways that Greenfield commuters use to get downtown. (I live and work in Indy and don't use the interstate.)

    And while we're at it, let's add a commuter tax so that Sick-n-tired and the other commuters pay for infrastructure and services (police, fire, ambulance, water, sewer, streets) that they use while commuting and working in Indy.

    Why in the world should my hard-earned money be used to subsidize and protect someone commuting 25 miles from Greenfield to Downtown?
  • Let it die !!!
    Consider this. In it's vast wisdom, our government has deeply discounted 445,000 rides at $3. That's 115,000 trips per year at an annual cost of about $1,000,000, or so they say. That's a total cost of $8.69 per ride. Now, keep in mind, our government taxes us first and runs it through some department where people making 6 figures... and a pension... have to manage it. Let's say it's another $2 per ride management cost. We're at $10.69 per ride on taxpayers like me. I work downtown too, but live in Greenfield. Even if the bus served my area, I would exercise my Freedom and choose to drive with all costs paid by me! In any case, the buses come nowhere near me. Why in the world should my hard earned money be used to subsidize someone else's ride to work? And you wonder what's wrong with our government. I bet if we looked hard we could find thousands of examples like this. It would be rather easy to make a huge dent in our deficit by eliminating ridiculous programs like this. Let it die!
  • Reverse commuting?
    I'm a faithful Fishers rider and I hope they keep this going somehow. Not sure how reverse commuting would work though. Eastern Star Church is smack in the middle of residential.

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