Transit seems to be a hot topic in Central Indiana right now.
From the numerous articles in the local papers, to the appearance of public service announcements on local television and radio stations, to the countless tweets related to #INTransit saturating the twittersphere—talk about transit is everywhere.
After sitting through a five-hour House Roads and Transportation committee meeting a few weeks back, which included over 40 individuals speaking about why they support expanded transportation options in our city and state, it is apparent that support for transit in Central Indiana is strong and growing.
However, a recent conversation with a close friend of mine left me a bit concerned about the level of awareness among Central Indiana residents about the details of the transit initiative. The conversation began something like this:
“So, I should probably already know this, but, what is this whole ‘Indy Transit’ thing you support? Is it, like, getting more public buses?”
While I was happy to share my knowledge, and answer questions she had, I also began to feel a bit worrisome. If a close friend of mine hadn’t realized the details of the transit initiative, how many other Central Indiana residents have suffered the same fate?
For this reason, I have decided to take this opportunity to provide a brief “Transit 101” summary to hopefully inform and clarify what #INTransit is all about.
So, here it goes…
The Indy Connect plan is a comprehensive plan to improve and expand transit services in Central Indiana. Based on decades of transportation research and community input, the plan involves a multi-step process that will expand upon the current IndyGo system, and add Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines and, eventually, light rail lines along main transit corridors. Such improvements will be funded by a combination of federal, state, and local dollars, as well as by user fares.
Ok, now here’s where it gets a bit complicated.
In order to fully fund the system, the creation of a dedicated local source of funding for the project is needed. Specifically, this will require an increase in the local income tax of 0.3 percent. Transit advocates are currently working on passing a bill through the Indiana General Assembly that would authorize a referendum in 2014 to allow voters in Marion and Hamilton County to approve such an increase.
The bill, which recently passed through the House Roads and Transportation committee 11-1, must now pass through the House Ways and Means committee, be approved on the House Floor, pass through the committee process in the Senate, be approved by the Senate Floor, and then signed into law by the Governor. Then, us voters will have to approve the funding increase via a referendum in 2014. And then, if approved, we can finally get going on making improvements to the transit system in Central Indiana.
The road toward improving transit options in Central Indiana involves a long, multi-step process—a process that is not possible without your help, support, and input. Be sure to stay engaged and informed on the status of the initiative, ask questions, and, most importantly, communicate your thoughts frequently with your state representatives!
As prefaced earlier, this is only a quick “Transit 101” overview. A number of amazing partners and organizations have been working tirelessly, conducting research, communicating information about the plan, relaying updates related to the status of current legislation, and clarifying any questions or concerns. For more information, and to find updates on the status of the bill, please visit: Indy Connect, Indy Connect Now, CIRTA, or ICAT, and follow the hashtag #INTransit on Twitter.
Until we meet again–Stay active, Indy!