Get on the Bus

January 21, 2014 | NUVO | Link to Article

Tuesday also marked the beginning of big push by transit advocates this week at the Statehouse in support of Senate Bill 176, which is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Tax & Fiscal Committeee.  The bill, authored by Indianapolis Republican senators Pat Miller and Brent Waltz, is similar to transit bills introduced in the past sessions, but it does shake up the question of financing. Previous versions of the bill would have required Central Indiana counties wishing to expand mass transit options to vote on whether residents were willing to support an increase in local option income taxes.  SB 176 spreads those costs around by; in addtion to the vote on local option income tax increase,imposing on corporations in counties that opt in a county income tax or a county employment tax and mandating that fares cover at least 25 percent of the tranportation system's costs.

The Indianapolis Congregation Action Network held a press conference in the Statehouse Rotunda Tuesday at noon to underscore their belief that SB176's passage would benefit the city in several ways.

"As people of faith...we believe in taking care of our building public systems that recognize that we are all connected," said Rev. Linda McCrae of Central Christian Church, noting 1,500 volunteeers were engaged with IndyCAN's voter engagement program.

Rev. Darren Cushman Wood of North United Methodist Church added his belief that "Mass Transit can bring us together.  Indianapolis is marked by economic segregaion; mass transit can be the cornerstone for breaking down those barriers."

Tim Vaughn, a deacon with Christian Love Missionary Baptist Church detailed his daily ordeal waking at 3:30am to make it to his job at 7am by traveling first downtown to get to Castleton, then walking 45 minutes to East 96th Street.

"It takes 14 hours to get paid for 8 and i lack quality time with my family," Vaughn said, noting that the inclement weather he is often forced to walk in the street.  "I don't believe we should have to risk our lives to do what's right for our family and community."

Transit Advocates will regroup at the Statehouse Thursday for Transit Day, the first opportunity in which the Senate Tax & Fiscal Committee may hear the bill.