(UPDATE: On Jan. 2, the Metropolitan Development Commission unanimously approved a resolution to sell the 6.5-acre parcel at the former Carrier-Bryant industrial site to IndyGo for $399,033.)
IndyGo plans to invest up to $4 million for a training and licensing facility for its bus drivers at the site of a long-vacant industrial site on the city’s near northwest side.
The City-County Council-controlled transit company hopes to build a 3,500-square-foot training center on 6.5 acres near 1100 W. 21st St., just north of the 16 Tech campus. The move comes as IndyGo prepares to bring in a new fleet of buses and additional drivers for its planned Red Line bus-rapid-transit route.
Construction of the facility would begin in spring 2019 in preparation for a 2020 opening, said Justin Stuehrenberg, vice president of planning and capital projects for IndyGo.
IndyGo will discuss the plan at a pre-meeting of the Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday morning, where Stuehrenberg said company representatives will offer details of the proposal. He said a vote on the proposal isn’t expected until the MDC’s first meeting of 2019, on Jan. 2.
The parcel on which IndyGo is seeking to build is controlled by the city's Department of Metropolitan Development. The facility would occupy most of the parcel but not all of it.
The site was previously home to Carrier-Bryant, which made furnaces and air-conditioning units there from the 1950s through 1980. The property was sold in 1985 for use as a warehouse for hardware and store supplies. The buildings were demolished in 2013 after sitting empty for 13 years.
Stuehrenberg said the new facility would transform IndyGo’s training program, which uses trailers as classrooms and a leased parking lot for hands-on training. The new facility would offer commercial drivers license courses—a requirement for anyone who operates one of IndyGo’s buses. IndyGo might partner with other organizations to offer CDL training for their employees, but Stuehrenberg noted nothing has been finalized on that front.
In addition to training new hires for the transit system, the facility would also provide courses for those who fill in on an interim basis when other drivers retire or leave the system. The property could also serve as IndyGo’s backup operations facility if for some reason its primary building at 1501 W. Washington St. became unusable.
IndyGo has made continuous investments in its operations in recent years, including construction of the $26.5 million Julia M. Carson Transit Center in 200 block of East Washington Street. It opened in June 2016. The bus system has also added bus frequency and increased hours of operation.
The new Red Line project is expected to cost upwards of $96.3 million in its first phase, with about 70 percent coming from federal grants. The other portion is expected to be paid for with a Marion County transit tax, implemented in October 2017. It's also utilizing a separate $10-million grant for the all-electric buses expected to operate on the route.
Most of IndyGo's budget is paid for through city funding sources.