IndyGo says the Blue Line’s price tag will be at least $300M more than expected

Keywords Bus / IndyGo / Mass Transit
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IndyGo said Wednesday that a new estimate for the Blue Line—which would be the city’s third rapid-transit bus route—has grown to $520 million, up a whopping $300 million from initial projections released in 2019.

And it’s looking for ways to cut costs.

Inflation, rising costs for staffing and new drainage requirements have pushed up the costs of the line, an east/west route meant to connect the Indianapolis International Airport to Cumberland.

But the new price tag doesn’t include the far western segment, which originally was to run along Washington Street, west of Holt Road. (The original $220 million price tag included all six segments of the route.)

Now, IndyGo is considering moving the western part of the route onto Interstate 70, which officials say could reduce the cost of the project and save time for riders trying to get to Indianapolis International Airport.

The original Blue Line route was 24 miles long; IndyGo did not say how using I-70 would change the distance.

Jennifer Pyrz, IndyGo’s chief development officer, said moving part of the route to the interstate—which runs south of Washington Street—could save $50 million in capital costs and require four to five fewer buses. It could also cut operating costs by $1.65 million per year, she said.

IndyGo showed this slide of a proposed change in the Blue Line route that would use Interstate 70 between Holt Road and the Indianapolis International Airport.

Pyrz said legislative pressure also led the transit authority to reconsider using Washington Street for the western segment. Earlier this year, two Republican state senators from Indianapolis filed legislation to ban dedicated bus lanes on Washington Street, a move that IndyGo said would have killed the project. That’s because $100 million in federal funding the agency plans to use for the route requires dedicated bus lanes.

Senate leaders killed the bill, but it was just the latest attempt by Republicans in Indianapolis to derail the city’s rapid-transit projects.

Even if IndyGo makes the I-70 change, Washington Street west of Holt Road—which is currently part of IndyGo’s Route 8—could still see infrastructure improvements, dedicated lanes and 60-foot buses, Pyrz said.

Meanwhile, IndyGo officials told the board they will be searching for additional funding for the Blue Line route, which they hope to open in 2027.. The route’s design is now 60% done, which allows for more accurate costs estimates.

IndyGo budgeted $220 million for the line in 2019, while the design was just 30% complete. It received a new independent cost estimate in June.

The agency said vehicles for the route will cost $128 million. The cost of drainage improvements increased from 30% of the line’s total price tag to 42% to comply with requirements set by the Department of Public Works and Citizens.

The board also heard ways the price tag could drop, which included a switch to hybrid buses—rather than all-electric buses—that could save $96 million, Pyrz said.

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48 thoughts on “IndyGo says the Blue Line’s price tag will be at least $300M more than expected

    1. All this information, ridership, revenue from fares, etc is always public. It’s a public transportation company. And this information has been on their website for the last close to a decade – publicly as part of all their board meetings. It’s amazing if people would take a little initiative and look for accurate information how much less misinformed people there would be just relying on others. 90 Red Line – BRT 333,515(2021) 416,775 (2022) 25.0% (%change). Highest ridership of all the fixed route lines.

    2. Red Line was sold on a pie in the sky “projection” of 15,000 riders per day. In reality it is less than 2,000 riders per day, and most of those riders currently aren’t paying a fare. Once the federal pandemic dollars run out, Marion County taxpayers are going to have a hefty tax bill to pay to operate and maintain the new bus lines.

    1. By my calculations….could only be an extra $15 million per actual user/rider. I always see up to 2-3 users awaiting a bus…talk about comfort. They could actually lay down and take a nap with all the room on those buses.

    2. Doug T, so the city can tout how progressive and forward thinking they are no matter how much it costs.

  1. “Mass” transit was a great idea in 1950.
    In an era of door to door driverless vehicles — which is nearly here — the idea of “rapid transit” trunk lines is moronic. Driven by a bunch of urban planner has beens.
    This is the Hoe Hogsett legacy. The investment of a billion dollars in things that are worthless.

    1. Did you miss that 42% of the cost here is drainage that needs to be fixed anyway? Not to mention a roadbed that needs to be completely replaced as well. How do you propose to fix any of that without federal transit funding? Would you prefer those federal dollars go to California and we pay for all of it ourselves?

    2. For the Blue Line, the Red Line and the Purple Line mist of the cost of all these projects has gone, or will go, to infrastructure improvements that needed to be addressed whether or not you had a bus line. So, no, this had nothing to do with Hogsett (first, the bus lines were approved by the voters in a ballot referendum, second IndyGo is an independent agency) or “urban planner has beens.” It has to do with the city for DECADES (probably longer than you have been alive) failing to maintain the city’s infrastructure.

    3. We aren’t remotely close to fleets of self-driving vehicles. An optimistic estimate puts them two decades out.

    4. Don’t worry bootyjudge will put recharge stations in under developed parts of the city, the dumb speading runs deep.

    5. It is crazy coming to a city like Indianapolis and seeing these comments for public transportation and much needed infrastructure changes whether they would have a bus line on them or not. Indy is and has been so far behind all of its sister cities or even cities a bit smaller. Shoot even SALT LAKE CITY in conservative morman Utah has a rail. It is maddening. Indianapolis is so sprawled already and essentially forces people to have a reliable vehicle to get around or else they are subjected to hours of transit on primitive bus system. The fact that indy go settled on rapid bus line as opposed to some sort of urban rail lines is disappointing, and because this was essentially only option that many would even budge to compromise on rapid mass transit issue. Thus, this is far from ideal to be frank but not because it is being developed, but in that it falls short of what it could be. As someone who spends everyday in the Healthcare field working as physician in area, it is troubling to see the obstacles systemically put in place for low income folks in this city that (in case of transportation) could be addressed in much more innovative manner. Individuals are essentially trapped on their side of town for any and everything without a car and then villainized for what they are not doing to better their situations.
      Furthermore, hate to see folks so hateful and ignorant on the comments talk about folks in this manner. Just remember suburbanites…your eutopias absolutely do not exist without the city. It should be in your best interest for the city to succeed and progress as this will attract other talent and jobs/business to the city (and further stroke your smaller eutopias). Absolutely baffles myself and many professionals from other areas of the United States.

  2. 🤡 🤡 🤡

    Pothole Boss Hogsett can’t even fix the roads and this billion dollar boondoggle/scam needs to be stopped now.

    All that has happened is major roads being torn apart for an empty bus line.

  3. I thought that these bus lines were to make it easier for people to get to work?? Who in there right mind will wait for a bus on I-70? These guys are total idiots!

    1. Who said anyone would get on a bus on I70?! It’s right on the picture, no reading big articles necessary: Express to IND via I-70

    2. Where are you getting such nonsense? The bus would not stop on I-70, it would run on Washington, then get on to I-70, possibly in a dedicated shoulder lane, to provide express service—-meaning non-stop—until it got off the highway and back on the local roads.

    3. Just what we need — a bus lane on I-70. With the normal delays on that route, the bus will be even later.

  4. Mark L, I agree. IndyGo had the opportunity to become a model for transit. I think they limited their thinking to “we are a bus company” and thus we have what we have. Where was the “science” in crafting solutions that we hear so much about?

    1. Unfortunately the republican led legislature and their attack on Indianapolis (regardless who is in charge) is limiting to only be focused on buses – and ideally for them – no busses at all. Their plans and visions were for a model transit system going forward to only be squashed at every turn by the legislature to do something more meaningful.

  5. Yikes.

    “IndyGo said Wednesday that a new estimate for the Blue Line—which would be the city’s third rapid-transit bus route—has grown to $520 million, up a whopping $300 million from initial projections released in 2019. And it’s looking for ways to cut costs.”

    Simple way to cut costs….don’t do it!

    1. They are going to do it, especially since the federal government is funding a major portion of it. They will as the article says, simply rescope it. Also, if you read the article (I know reading can be challenging), you would learn a large portion of the cost relates to drainage issues on the road, which need to be fixed whether or not a bus line runs along it. So, what you are really complaining about is years of the city failing to maintain infrastructure and fix things like drainage issues.

    1. Reading can be challenging, but if you read the article, you would know a large part of the cost relates to drainage issues that need to be corrected whether or not a bus runs along the road. The city has failed to maintain the infrastructure for years, and they are pushing a lot of these infrastructure repairs into the transit project when really the city should have just been maintaining the road and related infrastructure all these years.

    2. Anthony – ridership in the red line is the largest ridership of all fixed routes with the Washington route being the second largest. 333K of riders on a single line in a full year isn’t something to just sneeze off.

    1. What percentage of Indianapolis citizens need direct police services on any given day? Should only those few pay for it? Or are there things that a functioning society needs everyone to pay for so that people that need it have access to it?

  6. Clearly supply chain and labor issues, as well as inflation, have all taken their toll on major infrastructure projects. A better solution to this predicament would be to keep the Blue Line on Washington street between I-465 on both the east and west sides, and delay the segments that had been planned for outside the Beltway until additional funding can be secured from the federal government.

  7. Indianapolis seriously looks so foolish. We have so many other things we should be doing, like repairing the roads and hiring police to make our city safe. This city is looking like Detroit did in the 80’s…… falling apart!

    1. Becky – this is repairing the roads – and curbs – and sidewalks – and accessible ramps – and lighting – and roadbed. All of which we are getting federal funding to fix on one the larger more travelled streets that gets very little investment in an area that needs investment.

    2. Also – Becky – the Public Safety budget for the city of Indianapolis is nearly 2/3 of the ENITRE CITY BUDGET. We have hired more police offices – but you have to train them. So it takes a little bit for the ones hired to be impactful in the neighborhoods – but it is happening. Go look at the proposed city budget all the additional funding that is going to police.

  8. Any idea what’s going on with the Red Line downtown? It’s torn up along Capitol Ave. The stop on Capitol near Vermont is taped off and the road is blocked for multiple blocks.

    1. You are confusing two separate projects. Capitol is closed because utility work is being done along it for the new IU Hospital.

      As for the Red Line stops along there, IndyGo is replacing the road beds where the buses stop, so once it is done, they will go from the temporary stops and back the regular stations. It’s on their website, Twitter, and it’s been reported in the media on many sites, including IBJ.

  9. I would love to see what the cost per rider is My thought is for the number of riders sign a contract with Uber and give the people who might have ridden the blue,red, purple line a voucher to take Uber when they need a ride

    1. This would be way more expensive per rider and eliminate all infrastructure improvement benefits. It’s also unclear how much longer Uber and Lyft will be around. They have scaled way back and dramatically increased fares because they were hemorrhaging $2 billion per year, each. They’ve learned that operating a passenger-based business is expensive and doesn’t turn a profit without public assistance.

  10. Senate leaders killed the bill, but it was just the latest attempt by Republicans in Indianapolis to derail the city’s rapid-transit projects. …and avoid the never ending subsidy of what is and will always be a poorly used system which, so far, has done nothing but clog up existing traffic flows.
    Maintenance and improvement of existing thoroughfares will pale in comparison to maintenance costs associated with the lines and busses. The Federally gifted Ferrari will look affordable until you have it worked on!

  11. Its amazing to me how many of the above commenters refuse to accept the fact this was a bad idea to begin with and has failed miserably. The bus system in Indy has always been a joke, IndyGo has always been our worst run municiple entity, I cant see how anyone expected this to turn out any differently than it has.

    Meanwhile we have spent huge $$, destroyed our once easy to navigate street system creating gridlock everywhere downtown, and gained really nothing.

    Oh but we are now a progressive city because we have mass transit. This is not mass transit, sorry.

    1. Mild inconvenience during a 30-minute window in the morning and evening Downtown isn’t “gridlock.” This is hyperbole.

  12. Waste of time and money. There is no economic gain from this. It negatively impacts business and traffic which then impact one another. Instead of dedicated bus routes and more bike lanes, maybe we should look at the right of ways we currently have and revisit light rail between major populations in the area. From there an individual can hop a standard bus, another train, or walk to their desired location.

  13. It’s time we got rid of this total waist of taxpayer dollars. Cancel all the buses and put the money toward something we need. If it can’t support itself by income, why subsidize it.