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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Questions arise about BlueIndy electric car funding

The city will spend $6 million on the BlueIndy program to help make those cars available. But council members say they never got the chance to vote on that expense.
Credit: WTHR
The City-County Council has questions about the city's BlueIndy electric car program.
Critics on the City-County Council are questioning another Indianapolis city-funded electric car program.


The city will spend $6 million on the BlueIndy program to help make those cars available. But council members say they never got the chance to vote on that expense.


Construction is in full swing downtown and along College near 54th Street. BlueIndy charging stations will go in those spots, along with Fountain Square.


"I'm excited about it," said Thunderbird Restaurant and Bar owner Joshua Gonzales. 


Excited, because five electric rental cars will be parked adjacent to the Thunderbird Restaurant and Bar's outdoor patio, which is busy in the evenings and weekends. 


"I think when the drivers pull up and see a lot of action there, obviously I'm very excited about that, be curious about that, stop in, have a drink, have some food," said Gonzales. 


BlueIndy remains a pilot program with five electric cars parked downtown on Washington at Meridian Street. For more than a year, people have been able to take a test ride, but not rent out the cars. That's about to change with the addition of new charging stations and up to 500 new cars citywide.


While few question the possible merits of a low-impact transportation fleet, there are questions about funding. The $6 million is coming from the city's parking meter fund. 


"The legislative process is there to make sure there is oversight, to make sure there is a check on the administration," said Democratic City-County Councilor Zach Adamson.


He says the council was never privy to the contract between the city and the French company Bollore that operates BlueIndy. He draws some similarities to the current debate over the
Vision Fleet
, a program to provide electric vehicles to city employees. That program is being scrutinized because the council never had the chance to see the contract before it was signed.    


"If it looks this much like there's something strange going on, and there certainly is something weird going on with Vision Fleet, they're going through at the same time," explained Adamson. "Anything (could be) coincidental, but I just think there are too many coincidences for this to be happenstance."


But in Fountain Square, concern is less about the process and more about the outcome. 


"Just makes a lot of sense. I think it's great for the city," said Gonzales, the restaurant and bar owner. "I'm really excited to hopefully see it take off in the next few months."


Construction of some of those new charging stations should be complete by next month and at some point in July, the cars will be available for rental.