IndyGo officials have been working on a solution to a looming $4 million deficit since the beginning of the year. In February, IndyGo spokesman Alvin Hayes said a planned fare increase would only generate an additional $750,000 per year and that the deficit will continue to increase by $260,000 per month unless a solution was found.
Last week, Mayor Bart Peterson gave IndyGo part of that solution when he announced a one-time, $2 million loan. “Public transportation has been long neglected in this city,” Peterson said. IndyGo is servicing the city the way it looked 20 years ago, and it has been notoriously underfunded for years, as evidenced by its funding crisis today.
He went on to say, “IndyGo will be non-existent in 10 years unless it makes thoughtful, yet tough, choices today. However, we must make sure that riders are taken care of today in the short term.”
But only the short term.
Hayes said, “Our goal was to come up with a plan that would allow us to operate through the end of the year.” Now, with the help of the city, this has been accomplished. He also stated that route and job cuts were still under review.
“The $2 million loan from the city is a good start, but I feel, as do many bus riders and bus drivers, that if the city can come up with $2 million, they can come up with more,” ACORN representative Kate VanWinkle said. “There is absolutely no reason any routes should be cut or any jobs should be lost. I want to live in a city that values people more than profit. It is time for the city to make public transit a real priority, even if that entails a tax increase.”
According to the mayor’s press release, the hope is that the loan will “provide alternatives for affected riders in the short term, navigate the 2004 budget crunch and update routes into the 21st century.”
The release also advised that “the loan is one-time only. About $1.3 million of the loan comes from a special distribution of excess county income taxes from the state. Another $700,000 will come from a combination of several options, which could include funding from the Department of Public Works (DPW) typically used for projects supporting IndyGo, funding from a recent cable franchise fee audit, funding from a payment from waterworks to DPW for water treatment byproduct and various interest income from aforementioned funds.”