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HB1011 – Mass Transit – in Committee today

Indiana Statehouse (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

Indiana Statehouse (image credit: Curtis Ailes)

In case you have missed the blast of emails, tweets, major local media and others, today, HB1011, the Mass Transit bill, gets a hearing in Roads and Transportation. It will be in the House Chambers and starts at 330. Supporters are urged to attend. If you cannot, there will be a live feed of it on the Indiana General Assembly website. In case you have been underground for the past month, the latest on the Central Indiana transit plan can be seen at the Indy Connect website including a new map, the current plan, and other details associated with the push for improved mass transit in the Indianapolis region.

24 Responses to “ “HB1011 – Mass Transit – in Committee today”

  1. t.simon says:

    I am mystified by the red line. It seems to be neither on Meridian nor College. How is that possible?

    • Wesley says:

      The website says they are still figuring out specific routing in the “Meridian, College, Keystone corridor.”

      • t.simon says:

        Is there anywhere online that the specifics under consideration can be read?

        • Curt Ailes says:

          http://indyconnect.org/pages/Red-Rapid-Transit-Line-Study/

          That is all there is for specifics right now. The study was just started and will take a little while to narrow it down.

          • T.Simon says:

            Thank you. I did see that page, but it is incredibly vague. I find it hard to believe there are not more street-specific ideas at this stage, and I wonder exactly why these are not being presented in some form. As I see it, there are two answers to that:

            1) This is very much a “let’s put a show on in the barn” effort, with no specifics as to law, regulation, or long-term impact. or,

            2) It is an attempt to keep anyone possibly opposed to the routes in the dark for as long as possible, which seems sensible, but hardly fair.

            I saw something recently in comments that rang true: is it really ecologically sound to encourage the people of this city to live far away from where they work and play? Shouldn’t we be encouraging them to live closer to where they work, rather than facilitating a long commute, even by bus (as I don’t think rail is viable for a number of reasons}?

          • Curt Ailes says:

            T.Simon, I had a chat with somebody about this yesterday and how confusing the entire planning process is. As citizens, we do not usually think about how planning is done and why it is done the way that it is.

            Your comment is a perfect case study in this. You mention how vague the project appears to be. At this point in time, it is very vague. The sub-contractor is currently evaluating a number of options for the transit routes. They are plotting a number of possible routes and evaluating each of them against the criteria that they are given. Should they be reporting back every week on their progress to the public? That would be time consuming indeed; not to mention the technical nature of the data that they would inevitably be asked to provide layman’s translation to. So, for the time being, it is best to let them chug and narrow the alternatives down to a small number of choices that will then be shopped to the public to talk about.

            So, there are no smoke and mirrors in this process. It just takes time. At this point in the process, even the MPO planners do not know what each line is going to look like. Exactly where it is going to go. Where the stops will be or even what vehicles will be used. That will come in time.

            We as citizens, need to be patient.

            However, I can tell you with 1000% certainty that they read sites like Urban Indy and that the stories and comments that are posted here DO have influence on the decisions that they, as planners, are making on these projects.

      • Chris Barnett says:

        I think Illinois and Capitol south of 34th must be in the mix, too. They go past/through the campuses of The Children’s Museum, Ivy Tech, and IU Health Methodist Hospital. Further downtown, the high-rise office core is more concentrated along Illinois and Capitol, as is the convention/visitor/tourist infrastructure and state government offices.

        Meridian and College through the near-downtown area (10th to 34th) don’t really access the jobs/visitor base as well.

        • Matt says:

          Agreed. Working at Methodist hospital, I’ll tell you that a significant piece of our patient population does not have access to cars and relies on IndyGo (or tries to) to make their appointments. They often show up very early or very late to their appointments because of the infrequent, inefficient bus service, and they burn up most of their day doing it.
          If you’ll permit me a soapbox moment, I’m not so much concerned about the wealthier suburban folk when mass transit is discussed. I see it as much more of a value for our population who don’t have the economic means to drive. Transit is a ladder into the middle class. How is someone supposed to break out of poverty if they don’t have the mobility to make it to a prospective job? To go school for training? To make their medical appointments so that they can get fixed? Here’s one health care worker hoping that this upgrade to our transit system happens.

          • Jeffrey C says:

            “Transit is a ladder into the middle class” is an important pitch that should be strongly asserted throughout this process since so many of the vocal remonstrators seem to feel transit is something for hipsters and yuppies.

          • Julia says:

            I completely agree and would take it one step further: If we enable people at the bottom of the economic ladder the means to get to training and/or jobs, etc., we all benefit economically. We have fewer people needing social services and a stronger workforce. The economic benefit of transit is less straightforward that just fairs vs. costs and taxes.

  2. Idyllic Indy says:

    How about a fork, with a line on College, and another on Illinois?

    • Chris Barnett says:

      Easier: north of 38th, line on College. South of 38th, line on Illinois/Capitol. The jog across 38th would serve the dense residential and office cluster between 36th and 40th on Penn and Meridian.

    • Chris Barnett says:

      And then do the same thing at BR: jog the line east to Keystone/ Glendale on Kessler or BR Ave., then north to Keystone Crossing and Carmel.

  3. Idyllic Indy says:

    … or Capitol.

  4. Micah says:

    Both College and Illinois/Capital lines are imparative for this system to function and promote natural development.

  5. Shayla says:

    According to the Indiana Railway 2012 map, there are 10 railroads that branch out from Union Station to the adjacent counties mentioned in the mass transit plan. Of those 10, 6 are csx operated lines. Are there any studies currently assessing the feasibility of contracting these lines out with csx and getting commuter rails in place sooner than 2035? With 6 csx lines, and 4 lines owned by the state of Indiana, why not start off by developing a commuter rail system and building the current bus system up as you suggested? With increased bus service, BRT, and having multiple stops along those lines mentioned within Marion county, we could possibly forgo the idea of light rail for right now and put it in the distant future if the population were to outgrow the aforementioned concepts.

  6. Rhonda Lee Starr says:

    I think we should all flood the comments section on websites of anti-transit conservatives like Gary Welsh:

    http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2013/01/idiot-mayor-says-they-wont-come-if-we.html

    He’s opposed to anything that improves the urban landscape.

    • Micah says:

      Who is this Gary Welsh? Maybe we can all send him our opinion directly to him?

    • Johnny T says:

      “He’s opposed to anything that improves the urban landscape.”

      If you actually read many of the Advance Indiana postings, I think one will see Gary is really against crony politics than anything. Gary is an attorney, and while I don’t know how successful he is, he likely has some sort of decent income because he has stated he lives in one of the most urban areas in the city, around the Lockerbie area. Everything to “improve the urban landscape” has one thing in common: Taxing the fruits of another person’s labor and giving it to someone one else. It would be one thing if this distribution really did ‘spread the wealth,’ but that isn’t what is going on. Instead, political backers who own private businesses take a huge hunk of the tax revenue, and a handful of workers get wages that, if lucky, are around $15-20/hour.

      Gary writes about this a lot, and I don’t see that as anti-urban. I don’t think Gary would care one bit about development so long as it was actually done without additional taxation of the majority which only enrich a few business owners.

      Instead of painting someone with a broad brush, why not debate some questionable issues that have come to light?

      http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/2013/01/just-facts-please-on-mass-transit.html

      http://hadenoughindy.blogspot.com/2013/01/mass-transit-at-least-respect-taxpayers.html

      Why does the IBJ use studies from Indy Connect to show that no matter what total amount is requested, $6.7B, $2.4B, and $1.3B, the cost to an average taxpayer is just $180/year. That makes no sense. Either the IBJ has facts wrong, or the data they are using from Indy Connect is wrong. Clearly if you slash a plan by $5.4B, surely the average tax per person would reduce as well?

      Another thing: Does anyone believe there is ever such a thing as too much taxation? We raised the food and beverage taxes and raised enough to build a billion dollar stadium. Why not just raise the food and beverage tax in both Marion and Hamilton Counties another 2%, car rental tax another 2%, and hotel taxes another 2%?

      My hope is that the bill is changed. The tax lowered to .15% instead of .3%. Get the bus system up and running first. If it works well, then consider a light rail system in the future. In fact, once Lucas Oil and Convention Center bonds are paid off, use the Marion Co. and Hamilton Co. portion of those sales taxes and consider giving a portion to the mass transit system.

    • Greg says:

      Yes- by all means, let’s throw temper tantrums and bully those who dare to have a different opinion than us. In a free civil society, we are entitled to our opinions without fear of punishment.

      • ahow628 says:

        Greg: You forgot the “from the government” part.

        Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean you aren’t going to receive resistance or arguments against what you say.

        I can sit here and say that the sky is green till I’m blue in the face because that is my 1st amendment right. However, since that is silly and just plain wrong, I should expect some resistance to my claim.

  7. Micah says:

    Johnny, why not impose a gas tax to support INDY’S Transit system? One question: why does all of the funds for road infrastructure go toward the suburbs while downtown/midtown keeps crumbling? I also think there is too much taxation that benefits VERY LITTLE. However, it’s the small population investing in downtown and midtown who suffer. Why not fund (with a Marion County gas tax) a transit system that makes a bold enough statement which ultimately benefits Indianaplois as a community in the future…rather than waste 20-50 years of time and money on more studies (while paving and constructing roads for suburban development)? If Hendricks, Hamilton or whatever surrounding County want transit in the future to feed into downtown and/or Marion County…then that county can pay for it. Is it realwhy are to understand why the majority of people move away from Indiana? Btw, how’s the new 69 coming along? Before this highway was built, did Indiana consider that gas prices will just continue to go up? Indianapolis needs to start somewhere…and soon!

  8. Donald Webb says:

    This bill is nothing more that Republicans wanting a massive tax increase without having their names on it. Jerry Torr cited Charlotte as a great case for mass transit. I am sure taxpayers paid for his trip there, but yet he is not willing to just raise taxes. Of course if you really dig in to the light rail system in Charlotte you will discover the following.
    1. The cost of building the light rail was a 130% over budget.
    2. Fares only pay for 9% of the cost, and the average cost is about 6.90 per trip.
    3. There has been no noticeable reduction in traffic or congestion.
    4. Air studies have shown no noticeable reduction in pollutants.
    5. The ridership cited as exceeding expectations happened during the 2008 gas spike when gas hit four plus dollars a gallon. Note ridership fell by 15 and 39% on weekends.
    Maybe if Jerry and the other reps had done just a little bit of homework they would have saved Hoosier taxpayers 600 plus million on building this train.

    • ahow628 says:

      Donald,

      Thanks for all the research but you forgot to include any links or citations for the points you raise.

      This bill will allow counties to vote for themselves to take a maximum income tax increase of 0.3%. For a family making $50,000/yr, that equates to $12.50 per month or approximately $150 per year.

      “Maybe if Jerry and the other reps had done just a little bit of homework they would have saved Hoosier taxpayers 600 plus million on building this train.”

      Would have saved? The money hasn’t even been spent or appropriated or anything else yet.

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