Churches scrambling after popular Indy charter bus company shuts down

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A popular charter bus company with a hub in Indianapolis abruptly shut down this week, leaving groups who had already paid their bills scrambling to find new transportation.

If you live in the area, you may recognize Cavallo Bus Line's distinctive green charter buses. Lena Williams has used the company's services for years.

"They were clean, they were pleasant, and I enjoyed working with them," Williams said.

Williams, the Christian Education Director at Greater Saint Mark Missionary Baptist Church on the city's northeast side, hired the company for a church day trip this Saturday. She recently paid the remainder of the $1,200 bill and said she had no idea anything was wrong until she received an email from the company on Tuesday, saying they shut down and could not transport the group. Williams went to the company's building to speak to staff, but she did not get her money back.

"They pulled my contract and they said unfortunately they were told that the company went out of business on Friday," Williams said.

Williams and Pastor Joy Thornton jumped into action, because they did not want to cancel the church's trip. They are taking a group of young people and adults to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati as a way to connect and reach out to their community, since the church is in a troubled city neighborhood.

"Exposing young people, even young adults and adults, to something different, connecting with their heritage and having a sense of pride in who we are -- this trip was going to serve as basically a way to try and curtail some of the situations of this community," Thornton said.

Williams ended up paying another $1,000 to charter a new bus company for the trip. She received an email from Cavallo Bus Lines, saying the company plans to liquidate its assets and eventually she will be able to file paperwork to try to recoup the church's money.

FOX59 found out Cavallo, which is based in Illinois, shut down all of its operations. The longtime family-owned company had recently been sold to a group out of Virginia. Calls and emails to company representatives were not returned Friday.

Williams and Thornton said they hoped to get their money back, because as a small church, any amount of money means a lot.

"Thank God we had additional funds to pay this, but that does put a strain on what we’re trying to do in our ministry," Williams said.

"My prayers are with (the company). I'm praying that whatever the situation is, hopefully they can straighten it out," Thornton said.

If you want to help the church, you can donate or attend Saturday's trip. Seats on the new bus are still available for $99. You can contact Greater Saint Mark at 317-545-5673.