INDIANAPOLIS — On the same day that Senate Bill 141 passed in the Indiana Senate, IndyGo's CEO and President Inez Evans said every project, route, bus, and contract with the name IndyGo on it is officially in jeopardy.
"If the bill goes as, it stands the FTA will prohibit IndyGo from moving forward with the Purple and the Blue Line because we have now been deemed a financial risk as we will not have the ability to truly be able to support or sustain, in their words our funding sources," Evans said.
Evans said a message like that from the federal government is a death sentence to the Marion County Transit Plan, which would lose $177 million in federal funding and waste millions of more taxpayer dollars that IndyGo has already spent.
"We've spent over $37 million on the Purple Line, $4 million on the Blue Line, oh and I forgot that we've also bought 15 of the buses that cost $1.2 million-plus each for the Purple Line already," Evans said.
Evans said Senate Bill 141 doesn't just affect bus riders on the Red and future Purple and Blue lines, it could mean cuts to each and every regular bus route, the cancellation of projects replacing payment sidewalks and drainage on 38th and Washington streets.
Bus fares could triple leading to cuts to IndyGo programs that offer free rides to veterans and students from IPS. El'Ad Nichols-Kaufman is one of those students. He doesn't pay a dime when he rides the Red Line from home to Shortridge High School.
"Being able to ride IndyGo allows me to stay after if I need to for a club for a special audition or rehearsal for theater group. Last year I did mock trial, and we had weekend practices, so I was able to ride back and forth on the Red Line. That was very helpful," Nichols-Kaufman said.
Nichols-Kaufman, an IPS senior, has aspirations to become an urban planner or architect. But before he gets his first job this 18-year-old has something he wants Indiana's lawmakers to understand.
"If we're going to consider education as one of the things that allows anybody to get a good job, to move forward in life you have to have the access to really be available to anyone and that's part of the reason why public transit is so important," Nichols-Kaufman said.
Earlier this month, the state senator behind the bill told WRTV IndyGo's claims that the bill would lead to budget and program cuts are disingenuous, and retaliation for his proposed bill. Senate Bill 141 now makes its way to the Indiana House of Representatives, where a very similar bill died during last year's session.