Opinion: Hamilton County voters should have chance to vote on mass transit referendum


Commentary by Larry Lannan

Marion County will be voting on a 0.25 percent income tax increase Nov. 8 in order to finance expansion of the local mass transportation system. If Indianapolis voters approve this tax hike, will Hamilton County be next?

There has been talk of revitalizing the Nickel Plate line running from Indianapolis north through Fishers and points north. Could it become a commuter train to downtown Indianapolis? Could it be revamped and used for rapid transit buses?

I have always taken the position that local governments in Hamilton County should not move forward on mass transit without passing a referendum. If a majority of voters don’t support such an investment, it should not be done.

In a recent interview, Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness did not appear enthusiastic about developing the old rail line (now called the Green Line proposal), citing technological advances in self-driving vehicles that could render mass transit obsolete.

The issue may boil down to this: If Marion County passes the mass transit referendum, will Hamilton County, or parts of the county, vote on the issue?

As someone who spent nearly six years commuting between downtown Indianapolis and Fishers, if something isn’t done to ease the difficulty of that commute, it will eventually become a barrier to future growth. The planned improvements to the area highway systems may help, but will not solve the problem if population growth continues.

Mayor Fadness has been successful lately in increasing employment locally, but commuters continue to make up a large part of Fishers’ population. Even with all the recognition Fishers receives as a great place to live, our community loses its luster if you cannot move easily from one place to another.

My view is that voters should be given the opportunity to weigh in. If the vote is yes, mass transit moves forward. If the vote is no, the issue is off the table for some time.

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