A better mass transit system in Central Indiana is one step closer to reality

November 21, 2013 | WISH TV 8 | Link to video


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A bigger, better mass transit system is one step closer to reality after a study committee vote in favor of a plan that would permit tax referendums in five counties:  Marion, Hamilton, Johnson, Madison, and Delaware.

Voters in each county could decide if they are willing to pay for more bus service.

The goal of bus rapid transit lines that would go beyond Marion County will now be considered by the General Assembly in 2014, even though the latest plan recommended to it has few specifics.

Weeks of public testimony concluded today with bus rider David Thomas complaining of a lack of service. 

"Because of this," he said, "I had to quit my job."

Thomas came with a minister, Reverend Al Goertemiller, IndyCAN leader and Pastor of Pilgirim Lutheran Church who quoted the Bible. 

"Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land," he told the study committee.

If the committee, which voted 12-to-1, was practicing charity, it also made sure that the cost is spread out.

65 percent would be covered by a local option income tax hike. 25 percent would come from higher bus fares.
And, the final 10 percent would come from a new tax on corporations because they would benefit if workers can get to the job more easily.

"And that they had advocated strongly for it," said Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville,) "and so we didn't think that asking them to pay 10 percent of the operating cost would be out of line."

All that would come about only if a referendum passes and local politicians then vote to make the higher taxes possible.

Additionally, a 2014 referendum is problematic.

"Obviously, if the same sex marriage amendment goes forward," said Ron Gifford of Indy Connect Now, "that's probably not the best time for a referendum on other things to be on the ballot."

The only vote against the mass transit plan came from state Representative Mike Speedy of Indianapolis.
He's a Republican who is troubled by the higher taxes in it.

At this point, it's not clear how much money would be raised by it, or to what degree that would improve bus service.