Feds Say No Go to IndyGo

(posted Apr 18)

The Federal Transit Administration denied a second waiver request by IndyGo to serve as a charter bus service for race events. Trevor Ocock, IndyGo Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said IndyGo was hoping to provide the service because of the race's regional and national significance.

Ocock explained that IndyGo will continue to support as race events an infrastructure resource in case of emergency. IndyGo will be prepared for an emergency situation and will assist in the transportation plan to help other charter services.

Speedway Police Chief Jeff Dine said the FTA denial only happened three weeks ago, so public safety still doesn't know who the private charters will be. Dine said everybody wants to play in the "big event", referring to the 500. He said it was difficult to get charters to participate at the 400 and Moto GP, so this year the carriers will have to participate in all three events.

"IndyGo is on standby," Dine said. Dine indicated ten IndyGo bus drivers will be available to help with buses serving as cooling stations, and IndyGo will also be prepared to help with evacuation if such an emergency arises.

The public safety committee addressed other emergency issues during its April 14 meeting. The National Weather Service will have a team of meteorologists in place on race day in conjunction with the track's Storm Ready designation. The IMS is taking precautions after a tornado struck near the track just after the 2004 race ended. NWS Regional Director Dan McCarthy did not rule out heat as a possible emergency weather factor.

The IMS is reviving balloon races that first took place in 1909. The May 1st launch is open for media only. The public is invited for a balloon glow at 8 pm Friday. The Founder's Race launches at 7:30 am on Saturday. Gate Two opens to the public at 6 pm Satudray for a concert, balloon glow and fireworks. The Hundred Year's Race is May 3rd at 7:30 am, followed by the victory circle presentation at 11 am.

Zach Hutton of the IMS explained the ballon event is extremely weather dependent and is scheduled over three days to allow for bad weather. "They go where the wind blows," he said.

Track Public Safety Director Jim Campbell said ticket sales are about the same as last year and expects "the response in terms of crowd size for the 500, I think we are in pretty good shape as far as the interest level with people coming." He noted that "hospitality could be a different issue." He announced that Three Doors Down will be performing at the concert on Carb day.

Ron Pittman of the IMS said it likely they will offer wifi for the parking patrons, pending signing a contract.
Pittman said Lot 1C off 30th Street will open for parking on Wednesday, with the rest of the lots opening on Thursday before Sunday's race.