IndyGo buys secondhand buses to replace old ones

Indianapolis

Struggling with little funding, IndyGo recently purchased used buses from another community to swap with old ones in its fleet.

The 21 buses come from Columbus, Ohio, where they were deemed old and replaced by new buses.

Standing next to one of the secondhand buses, IndyGo President Michael Terry said it was the first time he’s had to purchase used buses, blaming a tight budget.

"This is extremely reliable, in great shape," said Terry. "But is it where we need to be? No. It's not a sustainable business model the way we're currently operating."

Currently, IndyGo has a fleet of about 155 buses and of them, 38 are ’97-’98 models with an average of 700,000 miles each.

Karen Tyler has been riding the bus for nearly 30 years and she has seen the wear and tear.

"Some of them need some work," she laughed. “They break down. Half the signs don't work on'em."

Terry said buying the used buses saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. A brand new bus costs at least $400,000; used buses from Columbus cost them anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 each.

He said it’s the best they can do right now, since IndyGo depends on federal money to cover operating costs.

"We've relied on earmarks, special grants, appropriations, competitive grants to be able to fund our capital needs. And that's not a sustainable business model," said Terry. "We need a local funding mechanism."

He hopes legislators will call for a referendum to put local money on the table.

In the meantime, he waits on federal grant money which only comes every few years. IndyGo just received some new funds that will be spread over the next several years on new buses.

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