Construction for IndyGo’s long-awaited Purple Line could begin as early as February, thanks to an $81 million federal grant, the public transportation authority announced Tuesday. A new set of electric buses will run along the Purple Line, which is the second of three planned bus rapid transit lines.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration Small Starts Capital Investment Grant and covers half of the Purple Line’s $162 million price tag. It’s news four years in the making—IndyGo began the grant process back in June 2017, according to spokeswoman Carrie Black.
“We’re so grateful to the FTA for another huge vote of confidence,” said Inez Evans, IndyGo president and CEO, in a news release. “This award means we can finally put years of planning into action for the second BRT line.”
IndyGo plans to fund the rest of the project with money from a transit income tax, Indianapolis’ Department of Public Works, and other federal transportation and highway dollars, according to the release. Voters approved the tax in 2016, and collections began the following year.
The Purple Line will run along 38th Street, upgrading a traditional bus route that IndyGo says is among its most ridden and most profitable. It would connect downtown Indianapolis to Lawrence. Construction could start as soon as February, according to the agency.
IndyGo plans to order 15 more 60-foot electric buses for the new line, according to Black.
The agency previously experienced major cold weather range problems with the electric buses running on its Red Line and was forced to dedicate all its electric buses to that route. But IndyGo will likely still use the same manufacturer, BYD, for the new buses, according to Black.
“It is our intention right now to continue the course we started with BYD,” she said.
Though federal funding hinges on the agency’s use of electric buses for its bus rapid lines, IndyGo has turned to hybrid buses for its other routes while waiting for the technology to improve.
Public meetings on Purple Line construction will begin in January 2022. Construction would last about two years, according to Black—bidding process, supply chains and weather allowing. The project includes 10 miles of bus lanes, 18 stations and signal work at 30 intersections, according to the FTA. IndyGo estimates that construction will create 1,850 jobs.