IndyGo cancels BYD electric bus order

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Stung by the inability of its Chinese-engineered electric buses to go the full distance promised without a recharge, IndyGo has announced it is canceling an order to buy five more BYD coaches for its popular Route 39 along East 38th Street.

Instead, IndyGo’s Board of Directors has approved a $7.5 million contract to buy 13 40-foot Gillig diesel-powered buses to run the route.

During the Board’s February meeting Thursday, directors were told the need to recharge the groundbreaking electric buses, constructed in California, well short of their promised 275-mile limit has forced IndyGo to devote all 31 of its existing BYD buses to the 13-mile long Red Line, leaving no spare coaches to service Route 39.

Cancellation of the BYD purchases frees up $6.4 million toward the Gillig buys.

Gillig already provides diesel buses to IndyGo.

IndyGo also announced that BYD has so far failed to make good on its commitment to either fulfill its contracted 275-mile recharge goal or provide a permanent recharging solution mid-route.

New Flyer, a relative latecomer to the electric bus market, recently demonstrated one of its coaches on the streets of Indianapolis for IndyGo officials.

Earlier this month, IndyGo President & CEO Inez Evans told a committee of the City County Council that New Flyer’s bus recharge mileage is approximately half of BYD’s unfulfilled promise and the Canadian bus manufacturer does not boast a robust parts supply system.

System-wide IndyGo passenger services revenues in January were $129,394, down 14.6% below budget projections, while expenses were down 30.7% to $4,031,581 which may be partially due to aberrations in the year-end billing cycle.

Across the entire system, ridership was up 8.1% in January compared to a year ago, though the $96 million Red Line is still off to a sluggish start.

In December, the Red Line recorded 130,015 trips for an average of 4194 trips per day.

Ridership increased in January to 138,480 for an average of 4467 trips per day, an approximate 6.5% increase.

During its planning and construction, and as recently as last month on its website, IndyGo officials consistently expected the Red Line to average 11,000 trips per day to fulfill its budget goals.

Last month, Evans unveiled a new definition of Red Line ridership success, claiming that the 11,000 daily trips figure was based not only on the new rapid transit route connecting Broad Ripple with downtown and the University of Indianapolis but also on the new companion grid system due to go into effect later this year.

IndyGo also acknowledged that its MyKey ticketing kiosks at bus stations are still not fully functional and talks continue with the vendor Flowbird as to its contracted commitment to make up for any revenue shortfalls due to the inadequate ticketing system.

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