By Krista Chittum
The House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony Thursday
on a bill that would bring rapid transit
transitto Central Indiana.
House Bill 1073 would double the number of buses and routes
and add public railroad transportation by the year 2021 in Indianapolis and
surrounding counties. The bill follows the lines set forth in a proposal from
the Central Indiana Transit Task Force.
The plan could raise county economic development income
taxes – CEDIT – by 0.2 percent in Central Indiana counties that
choose to adopt the new mass transit system.
"The bill creates funds and puts forth a new government
system for a newly created mass transit system," said Rep. Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale.
Espich is chair of the Ways and
Means Committee and author of the bill.
The bill would authorize the establishment of a regional
transit authority and a metropolitan transit district that would replace and
take on the powers of existing entities, including the Central Indiana Regional
Transportation Authority and the Indianapolis Public Transportation
Corporation, commonly known as IndyGo.
"IndyGo would become part of
the new MTD and all assets employees transfer, including debt and funding
obligations," said Mark Miles, co-founder and chairman of the task force.
Miles said the 10-year plan would bring new express bus
rapid transit routes.He said he
also envisions a train service from Noblesville to downtown Indianapolis.
"It's another option for people to get around the city
without a car," Miles said.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard
Mayor Greg Ballardsaid a mass transit system is necessary.
"A robust mass transit is an amenity," Ballard
said. "I believe our regional mass transit system is the next step."
Some expressed concern about the presence of right-to-work
measures in the bill, but Espich says that was not
"It never crossed my mind that this could be a
right-to-work bill, not once," Espich said.
"It was not my intent to do anything to concern anyone. We will take
another look at it."
Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, said he strongly
supports mass transit.
"All in all, I support mass transportation and, as a
citizen of Marion County I would have the ability to cast my vote in
referendum," Crawford said.
Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo,
expressed concern about increases in bus fare.
Senior Project Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council
Maloneysaid mass transit technology is more efficient and gave his support
for the bill.
"It benefits to energy consumption," Maloney said.
"Transit will help take motor vehicles off the road and will improve air
quality and traffic congestion."
This was not a formal hearing on the bill and no action was
The Statehouse File is
an online publication produced by Franklin College journalism students.