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Mass transit supporters to rally today at Indiana Statehouse

November 7, 2013 | Indianapolis Star | Link to Article

Business leaders, community advocates and clergy members are uniting today to urge the Indiana General Assembly to move forward with plans to fund an expansion of mass transit in Central Indiana.

The group will gather at the Statehouse steps facing Capitol Avenue at 2:15 p.m.

“It’s time for thriving families and communities to be at the center of our public decision making,” said David Thomas, IndyCAN leader from St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, in a statement. “Without frequent bus service, I pay $20 a day to get to my job in Plainfield, earning $7.15/hour. Expanded bus service would mean my hard work can translate into taking care of my family and keeping a roof over our heads.”

Clergy from 17 faith denominations, plus business leaders and transit supporters will share why they believe expanding the transit system is crucial for the future of the region.

“God teaches that our well-being is dependent on the well-being of all,” said the Rev. Carey Grady of Bethel AME Church. “It’s time for the Senate to take courageous action and authorize an equitable transit system that provides opportunity for all its residents and bus riders.”

After transit legislation failed the past two years, a joint House-Senate study committee is hammering out legislation to introduce in the 2014 legislative session. The committee will meet again at 9 a.m. Nov. 21.

Transit advocates are pushing for a 10-year, $1.3 billion overhaul that would include doubling the size of IndyGo, building two Bus Rapid Transit routes and adding a BRT route or rail line from Noblesville and Fishers to Downtown Indianapolis along the Nickel Plate rail line. BRT — high-speed buses with limited stops — is increasingly being used in cities across the country as a lower-cost alternative to rail.

Call Star reporter Chris Sikich at (317) 444-6036. Follow him at Twitter.com/ChrisSikich.