Mass Transit plan put on hold

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The mass transit plan backed by Mayor Greg Ballard will not win approval in the General Assembly this year.  It was derailed in a State Senate committee Tuesday. The committee voted to create a summer study committee on mass transit and, therefore, delay an up-or-down vote until next year.

The visions of a bigger, better bus system and the potential for a light rail line to Hamilton County are on hold but they are still alive. 

"If you really want to kill a bill there are ways to kill it," said Ron Gifford of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, "other than sending it to a study committee."

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard ran for re-election on the mass transit plan and it has heavyweight support from the business community. 

"We're convinced it's a necessary investment ultimately," said Cam Carter of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, "and will be a good investment ultimately."

But there is opposition, too. 

Committee members were given a power point demonstration by Cato Institute researcher Randall O'Toole, who says big spending on transit systems in other cities has not paid off. 

"Almost always new transit investments end up increasing congestion, spending energy and often creating serious air pollution problems," said O'Toole.

And so it's back to the drawing board for transit supporters who plan to be back with a similar proposal next year.  If the General Assembly approves a transit plan then, it could still be sent to the voters in a referendum in November of 2014.

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