By Natavia Howell
Central Indiana is a step closer to having a mass transport system, connecting Hamilton and Marion counties.
The bill authorizes a public referendum in which voters decide whether to raise taxes to pay for a $1.3 billion expansion of public transportation systems.
"We are pleased with the bipartisan support from the House committee members who understand the importance of having a world-class transit system in central Indiana," said Ron Gifford, executive director, Indy Connect Now. "We are grateful for the numerous organizations, businesses, local elected officials, community leaders as well as the public who came to the Statehouse at last week's committee hearing to voice their support."
The total cost includes about $668 million to expand the IndyGo bus service in Indianapolis to Hamilton County along with about $625 on a light-rail line connecting downtown Indianapolis to Noblesville.
Torr said this bill's initial purpose was to expand a bus route with nicer buses, more routes, and cleaner stops. He said the mass transport system would allow businesses to get their employees to work.
Mayor Greg Ballard supports the bill and said it will be good for local and state economic development. He also said the mass transport system will attract businesses to Indianapolis.
In order to pay for the system, counties would have to increase personal income taxes by 0.3 percent.
More than 7, 800 Hoosiers signed petitions to encourage lawmakers to place mass transit on the ballot so voters can decide how to fund the transit system.
"Today's committee passage is just the first step in this process. It is critical that supporters of an improved mass transit system continue to reach out to state lawmakers in the coming weeks to help ensure we reach our goal," said Gifford.
The expansion of the transit system would begin in 2015, and is expected to be completed by 2025.
Natavia Howell is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College students and faculty.
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