Payment for Central Indiana Transit Expansion Up For Debate

A group of transit advocates in Central Indiana discuss funding options for the expansion of the IndyGo bus system.

bus

Photo: indygo.net

Central Indiana transit advocates are proposing an expansion to the IndyGo bus system.

Central Indiana transit advocates are giving legislators their most detailed vision yet of what a proposed transit expansion would look like. The first of four bus rapid transit lines – two crossing Indy from east to west and two north-south routes to Carmel – could begin operating in 2019. Ron Gifford with the Central Indiana Transit Task Force says the organization is now questioning whether the income tax hike it proposed is the best way to pay for the project.

“When you’re a community like Marion County where 200,000 people commute into work and then go back home and the local income tax is collected where you live not where you work that exacerbates some of these funding challenges,” Gifford said.

Gifford says the task force is open to other funding sources, including a regional half-percent sales tax. Greenwood Senator Brent Waltz says too many central Indiana residents would have to pay extra taxes without living close enough to the transit lines to use them. He wants some of the money raised to be steered toward road improvements.

“If the majority of citizens are going to not be using a light rail line or bus rapid transit or traditional buses, then there needs to be some expansion involving roads,” Waltz said. “You have to be able to provide that value proposition.”

If legislators authorize a referendum to raise money for the project, planners say the IndyGo bus system could begin a doubling of local routes in 2015.

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