Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Transit Thoughts

The process to expand transit in Marion County is coming to an end as the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council voted 17-8 to raise city income taxes by 0.25% to fund expanded transit. The proposal that passed the council is only to increase the tax rate. If the Mayor of Indianapolis signs the tax increase into law, the city and IndyGo will still need to establish what expanded transit will look like, though testimony before the council indicates that the bus rapid transit line known as the Red Line will be prioritized if federal funding doesn't come into play.

While I voted in favor of the transit referendum in November, I am personally lukewarm on the tax increase, the entire process, and even the transit plan.

I agree with what my friend and blogging colleague, Jon Easter, is likely to post today. That this referendum is essentially leaving large chunks of the city in the dust, and that unless you live along one of the proposed bus rapid transit lines, your geographic distance to a transit stop probably won't increase. Under served  areas will continue to be under served. This should be addressed in an honest way, and not simply written off that there aren't destinations on the south side.

I am frustrated that the surrounding counties aren't participating in this transit referendum. While many city officials in Fishers, Carmel, and Greenwood have spoken favorably for the regional transit plan, these decisions are left to the county and the counties haven't authorized the referendum. This is frustrating because Plainfield is recognizing the need for transit services and businesses are even funding a Plainfield commuter line in hopes of bringing more workers to the southwest side suburb.

And I personally likely won't benefit from the transit referendum. The routes for the Castleton area won't change. It will still be a half mile walk to get to the nearest bus stop. And for someone who works in Carmel, the transit system really doesn't benefit me during the week.

That being said, I think my old stomping grounds of Irvington and the east side overall will benefit with the Blue Line rapid transit system making it easy to access Broad Ripple, downtown, and other neighborhoods along their routes. While the routes proposed aren't perfect, I think they're a good start and I hope the council, the Mayor, and IndyGo invite public comment so we can have a good and deliberative discussion on the proper plan now that the transit tax is all but decided. And people trying to get around Indianapolis from the airport won't have to deal with confusing bus schedules or a ridiculous Uber charge and just hop on the rapid transit bus that'll service the airport area.

I honestly believe that, while not perfect, that this is the right move as long as our representatives proceed with an open and honest discussion now that the tax has been voted on.