A funny thing happened on the way to better transit in central Indiana.  HB 1073, championed by a wide range of business and public interest groups along with many local elected officials, stumbled in the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, January 26, failing by a narrow one vote margin.  The obstacle to passage was “right to work” language preferred by Chairman and bill author Rep. Jeff Espich, and opposed by most committee Democrats, including Rep. Bill Crawford, a long time transit backer.
 
But don’t despair, transit advocates! The committee debate and vote demonstrated bipartisan support for transit, from Chairman Espich to the members who voted no. So the effort continues, as HEC and our partners seek a home for transit language in other pending bills.  The coalition backing this bill is a determined bunch, with plenty of legislative experience and a great cause to work for. 
 
The provisions in HB 1073 would have set the stage for a new, robust central Indiana transit system.  Subject to voter approval in a referendum, the bill would enable Marion County and the surrounding counties to build and operate a regional transit system with expanded bus service, including new bus rapid transit and more express bus service.  The plan also includes the region’s first ever commuter rail, connecting downtown Indy to Noblesville, with numerous neighborhood stops in between.  To pay for this new system, voters would also be asked to approve a modest local income tax to expand the local share of transit funding. 
 
Leaders in Indianapolis and many of the surrounding communities understand the importance of effective and efficient public transit to our quality of life and economic prosperity.  We need our legislators to support this vital investment in central Indiana’s future.

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