Business boosters push transit plan 

Several cities have embraced bus rapid transit, which supporters pitch as "light rail on wheels." This bus connects downtown Las Vegas to Nellis Air Force Base. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BY HERRVEBAH VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Several cities have embraced bus rapid transit, which supporters pitch as "light rail on wheels." This bus connects downtown Las Vegas to Nellis Air Force Base.
  • Photo courtesy of by HerrVebah via Flickr Creative Commons

After years of study, the local business community, as represented by the Central Indiana Transit Task Force, is now endorsing plans to modernize and improve the regional transportation system — including a 0.3 percent local income tax increase to fund the effort.

Two major hurdles — both related to funding — remain before such plans can be actualized. First, the Indiana General Assembly must endow Central Indiana communities with the authority to vote on tax increases dedicated to implementing local plans and enable the creation of a regional transportation authority to oversee the process. Second, the voters must decide that such improvements are needed and that the proposed plan is sufficient to satisfy that need.

The task force is an outreach of four main groups: the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, which brings together local chief executives and university presidents to explore strategies for long-term prosperity in the region; the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors; and the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

"It is important for taxpayers to decide for themselves whether they think there's adequate value for their money," said CICP Chief Executive Mark Miles at a news conference Tuesday.

Based on three years of study, and "more due diligence, scrutiny and economic analysis ... than perhaps any other planning process of this type anywhere in the country," Miles voiced confidence that voter support could be won.

A roomful of business leaders and politicians packed the room as other local leaders rose to offer their endorsements.

"This proposal, if approved by the General Assembly and the voters in 2012, will have a dramatic impact on our region," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said.

"We can make this thing happen. I invite all of you to join us on that journey."

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, who, like Ballard is a Republican, also voiced support of the plan, which he said would provide better access to jobs, health care and educational opportunities, as well as greater flexibility to people who can't drive.

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