Church Network Renews Campaign to Build Transit Bill Support

November 7, 2013 | WBIC 93.1 AM | Link to article


IndyCAN members gather at the statehouse to begin a renewed push for a mass transit bill. ( photo: Eric Berman)

An Indianapolis-area church coalition is vowing to mobilize the grassroots to push a mass-transit referendum through the legislature.

Pastors with IndyCAN, the Congregation Action Network, say improving the IndyGo bus system is a moral issue. They argue the inadequacies of the IndyGo bus system make it harder for poor residents to find jobs, because many of the employers who are adding workers are on the city's outer edges or in neighboring communities. They say the limitations of bus service mean some residents either can't reach those jobs at all, or can't afford to accept them, because the pay is too low to accommodate for the bus fare and circuitous route to get there.

About 30 ministers fanned out to bus stops near the statehouse to talk to riders about the approaching debate over a transit expansion. It's the start of what IndyCAN says will be a concerted effort to gather the personal stories of a thousand bus riders -- and register 10,000 to vote. Pilgrim Lutheran Church of Carmel pastor Al Goertemiller says they plan extra focus on the districts of four state senators who have voiced skepticism about the expansion plan: Republicans Scott Schneider and Mike Young of Indianapolis, Mike Delph of Carmel, and Brent Waltz of Greenwood.

And Goertemiller says IndyCAN plans weekly vigils at the statehouse during next year's legislative session to push legislators to keep a transit bill moving.

City and county leaders are seeking state approval to hold a November referendum on raising local taxes to pay for a doubling of IndyGo service, and a possible light-rail line from Indy to Noblesville. A study committee plans to issue nonbinding recommendations next month.