Mass transit bill advances

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The mass transit bill backed by Mayor Greg Ballard cleared a big hurdle in the General Assembly Wednesday.

"The bill just passed out of the Ways and Means committee 20-to-2."  That's how Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) announced the news to a rally on Transit Day at the Statehouse

Torr is the bill's author and he explained the benefits to the committee. 

"Cleaner, nicer, quieter buses," he promised, "and some routes that would be quicker and so forth." 

The idea of better transit in Marion and Hamilton Counties, and eventually beyond, won support from Democrats, including Greg Porter of Indianapolis who said, "It's about getting people to work."

There was also support from Republicans, including Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers.) 

"I'm also quite confident in the fact that when you look at the way our city's handled large projects in the past," said Huston, "that we've shown the capacity to do it and do it right."

Supporters are optimistic. 

"The general bumper-to-bumper traffic is just adding more frustration to my days trying to get around," said business owner James Brigham.  And Jerry Torr expects a repeat of the 20-to-2 vote in the full House.  "I suspect," said Torr, "that pretty much reflects what percentage we might get on the House floor."

The transit bill is on track but there is trouble ahead in the state Senate where key lawmakers worry about the long term viability of a mass transit system. The transit bill has already advanced farther than it did in two previous efforts.

 

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