Ministers start campaign for expanded bus service

November 7, 2013 | WISH TV 8 | Link to article

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - There's a new campaign underway to push for an expanded mass transit system in Central Indiana.  It's being led by clergymen who belong to the Congregational Action Network, known as IndyCAN.

IndyCAN wants the bus system doubled in size and they're mobilizing bus riders to help make the sales pitch.

Members of IndyCAN were on bus stops Thursday afternoon identifying bus riders and encouraging them to tell their stories to the state lawmakers who are now studying plans to improve bus service.

They also prayed for lawmakers as they gathered on the Statehouse steps to make the argument that bus service is more than an economic issue. 

"Will they have the moral courage to give all of us the opportunity to do our part to improve our city?" asked Rev. Brent Wright of the Broad Ripple United Methodist Church.

The goal is to create a bus service that would not only serve Marion County, but also surrounding cities including Plainfield, Whitestown and Carmel. 

It's why IndyCAN has already recruited David Thomas.  He lost his ride to a job in Plainfield. 

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

And Dwayne Pendleton says he was offered a job at the airport.  "I wanted to work," he said, "but I ended up homeless."

Yet not everyone who is currently using the bus system wants change.  Ken McDaniel lives on the north side and worries that surrounding cities may get a higher priority than existing neighborhoods.

"It will eliminate my bus stop," he said.  "I won't be able to ride the bus if they expand the bus service."

It's part of what the General Assembly will sort out in 2014.

In the meantime, IndyCan will conduct weekly vigils at the Statehouse.

It is also starting a voter ID program in hopes that lawmakers will approve a referendum on new taxes for mass transit.