Mayor Ballard changes mass transit sales pitch

January 23rd, 2013 at 5:35 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Mayor Greg Ballard (R-Indianapolis) was at the Statehouse Wednesday seeking the ability to raise taxes. Those taxes would be used to build a better mass transit system.

What the Mayor and others want is the authority to hold a 2014 referendum in Marion and Hamilton Counties so that voters could decide if they are willing to pay more for better buses. A committee in the Indiana House heard the bill that could lead to an increase in the county option income tax of .3%.

This is the third try at legislative approval for mass transit improvements but this time there is a different focus. Gone, for the time being, are the dream concepts of light rail and rapid transit, replaced by an emphasis on buses that would permit people to get around this area without the need to own a car. Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) says the result would be, “Expanded bus service, with nicer, cleaner, quieter buses than what we have now.”

Mark Miles, the past president of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, told the committee that the plan would double the amount bus service in Marion County and could establish bus service in Hamilton County.

“If we don’t build it they will not come,” said Mayor Ballard while making the case that it’s all about attracting corporate talent, “and if we don’t build it, the young people who grew up here, may not stay.”

There will be no vote on the transit bill until next week.

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