Commuter bus might be saved

Might a new commuter bus route between Hamilton County and Indianapolis soon be on its way?

Sounds like it, based on a post-mortem being written for the IndyGo Commuter Express routes, which end this month as a three-year federal demonstration grant that funded the routes expires.

The Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority has been scouting for federal cash the last several months. CIRTA’s executive director, Ehren Bingaman, said all indications are that a new federal grant will be matched with local public and private dollars.

“We hope to have all the details ironed out and announced by the end of the year,” Bingaman said.

The current service, aboard luxury coach buses, ends Dec. 31. The so-called ICE service was launched with a one-time federal congestion-mitigation air quality grant—first from Fishers to downtown, in 2007, and the following year from Carmel to downtown. In all, there were about 445,000 trips.

Ridership was so strong that fare box revenue was sufficient to pay for the 20-percent local match, so municipalities didn’t have to be tapped.

But without federal funding the $3 one-way ride would be $7 from Fishers and $9 from Carmel, according to IndyGo.

IndyGo President and CEO Mike Terry said ICE riders “have proven there is a strong demand for such a service.”

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