Republican councilors ask Hogsett to pass on purchase of BlueIndy assets

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Indianapolis City-County Council Republicans are urging Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration to waive its option to purchase BlueIndy’s assets.

The electric-car-sharing service is slated to cease operations in Indianapolis in May, and per its agreement with the city, Indianapolis will have 60 days after that to purchase the above-ground assets, which include charging stations and kiosks.

So far, the administration has not made a commitment to purchase the assets but has acknowledged it’s being considered.

Council Minority Leader Brian Mowery told IBJ small businesses across the city were negatively affected when parking spots outside their front doors were taken over by BlueIndy. He said his caucus believes returning those spots to non-metered public parking would be beneficial to those businesses.

He also said the Republican caucus believes it would be irresponsible to spend more money on a venture that has already failed.

“I don’t see the point in doubling down on a program that’s already failing,” he said. “Spending more money on this is not the answer.”

Proposal 101 is a special resolution that urges the Hogsett administration to waive the city’s option to purchase all the location fixtures installed by BlueIndy; to enforce BlueIndy’s contractual obligation to remove all the location fixtures, at BlueIndy’s expense; and to revert those parking spots back to non-metered public use.

The proposal was introduced Monday night. The resolution has been referred to the Administration and Finance Committee.

BlueIndy launched in September 2015 with a $6 million investment from the city and a $3 million commitment from Indianapolis Power & Light. BlueIndy’s parent company spent another $41 million getting the car sharing service up and running. The service never met its usage goals and, in December, the company announced it was calling it quits.

The price of the above-ground infrastructure would be based on a to-be-determined fair market price. Mobility advocates have said they’d like to see the infrastructure continue to be used in some fashion—especially as Indianapolis seeks to expand its transit options and embrace greener policies laid out in its year-old Thrive Indianapolis sustainability plan, which includes goals of amping up electric-vehicle charging.

The mayor’s administration said it is working with advocates and stakeholders to decide the best path forward.

“Following BlueIndy’s exit from the Indianapolis market, city leadership is committed to continued collaboration with the broad coalition of advocates who want to ensure that we fully explore financially-sustainable options for the existing electric charging infrastructure,” Hogsett spokeswoman Taylor Schaffer said in written comments. “By allowing the city the next few months to explore what programs exist to take advantage of these unique locations, we may be able to bring programs to fruition that can address myriad issues including: accessibility, mobility, as well as social and economic mobility.”

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13 thoughts on “Republican councilors ask Hogsett to pass on purchase of BlueIndy assets

  1. I’m not advocating for this necessarily., but one option would be to buy the assets, and sell off the cars, keeping only the charging stations. This would help with the electrification of transportation in Indy, which has many benefits. However, I can see the point of returning the parking spaces to open parking. We lost a lot of spaces to this, and that’s a problem for many businesses. Just look what happened to SoBro Cafe.

    I can see both sides of the argument. This is a tricky one.

    1. SoBro Cafe stated that they were already planning on moving on to another venture. There is no parking shortage in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination.

  2. Why would they think the service is suddenly going to pick up if it hasn’t already? It’s been around long enough; it’s nothing new that people don’t know about. And now, the city has the oh-so-wonderful red line that would presumably take away additional riders from these cute ‘lil golf cart-like cars.

    I would agree; good money after bad. Time to cut losses.

  3. Typical short sighted nonsense. The Republicans are scrambling to find a vendor that will line their pockets while purchasing the Blue Indy assets for pennies on the dollar. Did we not learn from the half billion dollar parking meter debacle? Apparently not.

  4. This would be highly irresponsible. Indy has an extremely rare opportunity to actually control public space along the street. Simply turning it over for people to store their private property on public land for free would be a horrible move. We could actually have pedestrian infrastructure that is pleasant and can be leased to local businesses for things like sidewalk cafes, bicycle parking, or electric vehicle charging.

  5. The Republicans are aligning with a few business owners that may or may not have been impacted by BlueIndy installation. While that might gain them a few votes, it’s probably not the best long-term strategy for the infrastructure. The experiment has proven that Indy isn’t ready for this type of car-sharing but the electrical chargers have value if converted to standard EV charging stations. In addition, adding back some (if not all) of the parking meters probably makes sense given that the awful parking meter deal contains certain hold-harmless provisions that costs the City money.

  6. The city hired a French company using Italian-made little cars. Are we Hoosiers too stupid to have figured out how to have implemented this transportation enterprise by ourselves? And the cars? Obviously there are no manufacturers in the USA nor even in Indiana that may have been interested in making electric cars suitable for BlueIndy. Nope…no car-makers in Indiana! (sarcasm!) And the city knows best when it comes to electric buses. Chinese-made electric transportation is the way to go. Until it’s not! The new diesel buses will remind many of us of the reliable buses of 1962 and smell similar. As for IndyGo and BlueIndy…should we perhaps actually learn from our mistakes?

  7. How many parking spaces were lost and what was the corresponding lost revenue. One finds it extremely difficult to believe that loss of one or two parking spaces would effect a significant impact if a customer were destined to a particular business. And, providing a free parking would hardly guarantee a space would be available for that special customer who must park directly at the front door of the business. Careful review of this matter should be undertaken and restoration of some parking may be a reasonable option but at what opportunity cost,

  8. Blue Indy shows that not enough people had an appetite for car sharing. Perhaps because Blue Indy focused on areas where most already had access to cars. Perhaps the car sharing subscription cost was too much for areas where fewer people owned or had access to cars. And, actually, there are few manufacturers of battery electric buses in the US. BYD provided a product that does not meet performance specifications for miles between charges; BYD must be held liable to resolve the issue if not face liquidated damages. This is bad, but this does not mean that electric buses are a thing of the past. Perhaps Tesla will build an affordable e-bus. Alternatively, trolley buses could be used, but the overhead wire might offend some and its maintenance is an additional cost. However, trolley buses have operating since 1962 and much earlier and are proven and reliable. Had Indianapolis maintained trolley buses, all would be perfect. Also of interest is that state of the art diesel buses do not emit pollutants as was the case in 1962. Cars were quite stinky then as well. Things have indeed changed! Of course, I-65 and I-70 though the city were brilliantly and beautifully designed roadways,

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