The Carmel City Council voted down a request for $196,592 in financial support for “the Red Line,” a mass transit system that would travel from Westfield to Greenwood and be managed by IndyGo.
In September 2014, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook joined Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and other elected officials to announce a $2 million federal TIGER grant to assist IndyGo with the next phases of development, including environmental analysis and engineering, for the Red Line.
With this federal funding, there needs to be matching funds from localities and there’s the hope that more federal funding could be awarded down the road. Because the line would go through Carmel – and, some would argue, benefit Carmel – an interlocal agreement was drafted to see if Carmel would chip in for its share of the costs, based on factors such as population and length of the mass transit line.
Earlier in the city council meeting on July 6, the council approved joining the creation of a regional economic development group that could be used to help obtain state and federal dollars, presumably for projects such as mass transit that affect all of central Indiana.
City Councilor Ron Carter spoke strongly against getting into bed with IndyGo.
“Why would we let IndyGo manage anything?” he said. “They can’t even empty the trash cans at their bus stops. They always say they’ll do better, but they never do any better.”
Carter said he can’t support this version of mass transit, “especially if the Indianapolis City-County Council has any hand in this. They can’t even get their streets fixed,” he said.
City Councilor Luci Snyder said she’s worried that IndyGo would keep coming back for money again and again, as they did with the now-defunct IndyExpress bus.
“I don’t support this at all,” she said. “This is another boondoggle.”
Carter pointed out that the IndyExpress bus didn’t have a marketing campaign or even a ridership study yet they kept asking Carmel for money.
Carter was the lone vote against the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority ordinance, partly because he said he was concerned about the makeup of that board. He said he has the same concerns with IndyGo, that the board will be dominated by Indianapolis which has a very different agenda than Carmel.
City Councilor Sue Finkam, the lone vote for the IndyGo proposal, said the money was just for the early stages of the initiative and believes that mass transit can benefit Carmel economically.
“We should be leaders in this regard,” she said.