As the state of Indiana begins to wade into the issue of creating a public mass transit system, here are a few things to think about.
Some will wonder if we really need a mass transit system. I believe that question can be answered with a few facts.
Consider these key points:
According to the American Public Transportation Association, every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales. Communities can expect a $4 return for every $1 invested in mass transit.
The Transportation Equity Network tells us that 20 metro areas would generate more than 1.1 million new jobs over a five-year period if those areas shifted half of their highway funds toward building and operating a mass transit system. This could be accomplished without adding a single dollar in new spending.
At a time when we still are struggling with high unemployment, doesn't it make sense to consider construction and operation of a transit system to get people back to work?
The time to act on mass transit is now. So, what's the hold up?
Well, this is an expensive endeavor, costing close to $1.3 billion over 10 years just to build the system. With such a large investment, we must be sure we are doing things the right way. That means giving voters the chance to have their voices heard through a referendum. Making sure that voters understand the ramifications of such a large project is vital.
Next, we must make sure that the project is controlled locally. I believe the City-County Council, for example, should have equal input during the decision-making process.
Planning of the new system will be essential, particularly in determining the locations of the "hubs" where passengers can be picked up and dropped off. It is imperative that these stations be placed strategically where people can have the easiest access to the system.
Indianapolis is a growing city and will continue to grow.
Ensuring that people can get to jobs will boost our economy. Ensuring that we design the system strategically will boost our overall economic development.
These are issues that should be debated in this session of the Indiana General Assembly. As the ranking Democrat on the House Roads and Transportation Committee, I intend to do what I can to see these discussions take place in 2013.
We cannot afford to wait.