By Nancy Edwards
A potential mass transit system that would run between Hamilton County and downtown Indianapolis is still up for debate: would residents rather use a bus rapid transit or light rail transit? The question depends on where the money comes from.
“The issue of funding is yet to be determined,” said Mike Colby, Fishers Town Council member.
The Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority currently provides the Express Bus with stops at 106th Street and Lantern Road. According to Colby the Express Bus is “being utilized but not to the extent to reduce traffic flow on the interstate.
“We need a way to help move traffic to support the transit system,” he said. “The $64,000 question is: Should there be a rail system or bus system and who should pay for it?
There are some residents, according to Colby, who do not want to pay for a rail system because they said they would not use it, and others feel that they already pay enough income tax as it is.
The legislature has not yet approved for a mass transit system. However, a study group is currently discussing the system, weighing the options.
Advantages of a mass transit system, according to proponents, include the environment, economy, quality of life, and a cost effective way to reach more people.
For example, rapid transit can eliminate thousands of vehicles from crowded roadways, reducing energy consumption and pollution. Economically, the transportation system brings opportunities for the development of areas near transportation routes, creating jobs and connecting workers to where they work. As well, commuters are able to spend more time with friends and family.
The proposed budget for the system would cost about $1.3 billion to build the first phase in Marion and Hamilton Counties and would cost $136 million annual to operate once completed in 2021.
Counties would decide individually when to put the matter on the ballot and would not be subject to a new tax until after the residents of that county voted to become part of the system.