FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) - Optimism drives transit planners in central Indiana, right now --- cautious optimism.
Tuesday night, Ehren Bingaman, the Executive Director of CIRTA, the Central Indiana Regional Transit Authority, called that "a good step forward."
But, rather than declaring any victory, he said he is "looking forward to working with the Senate and seeing how the bill unfolds."
CIRTA is part of the campaign for improved bus service and, maybe, light rail for Indianapolis and its suburbs.
24-Hour News 8 found Bingaman in Fishers at a transit whistle stop tour. Over the next few weeks, members of the campaign will meet with anyone who is interested in the proposal. People like Bingaman will ask their guests whether they prefer light rail or bus rapid transit. The meetings might also help establish where stops might be along the routes in the system.
"So, we're asking the public to help us resolve some of the details that need to be figured out," Bingaman said. But, the meetings also offer transit planners a chance to explain the environmental impact of mass transit and the costs associated with it.
Some of the message is as simple as sharing the color-coding associated with the first routes in the plan. The Red Line would run from Carmel to Greenwood. The Blue Line would link Cumberland to the Indianapolis International Airport. The Green Line would stretch from downtown Indianapolis to Fishers.
It'll take money, of course.
"In order for us to be able to build the IndyConnect plan, we need a new, locally-dedicated revenue source." House Bill 1011 "would allow for county-based referenda and give voters a voice in whether or not we want to make this transportation investment," Bingaman said.
The earliest such a vote could take place is November of 2014.
"That means," Bingaman said, "in January of 2015, we could start making investments."
People focus on the possibility of a light rail line as part of the system. But, if that happens, it's a long way off. In the first four years, the focus would be on the bus system.
"Doubling our local bus service is our very first step," Bingaman said. "It is ten years before the full plan is built out in Marion and Hamilton Counties."
If you would like to attend one of the meetings, you can find them at the following locations:
Wed, Feb. 27 - University of Indianapolis, 1400 E. Hanna Ave., Lilly Science Hall (accessible by IndyGo Routes 22 and 31)
Thurs, Feb. 28 - Julia Carson Government Center, 300 E. Fall Creek Pkwy. (accessible by IndyGo Routes 2, 19 and 30)
Tues, March 5 - Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, 6501 N. Meridian St.
Wed, March 6 - IndyGo headquarters, 1501 W. Washington St. (accessible by IndyGo Route 8)
Thurs, March 7 - Carmel High School Freshman Café, 520 E. Main St., Carmel
Tues, March 12 - Irvington Middle School, 6040 E. Pleasant Run Pkwy. S. Dr. (accessible by IndyGo Routes 3 and 8).
Wed, March 13 -Eastwood Middle School, 4401 E. 62nd St. (accessible by IndyGo Route 19)
Thurs, March 14 -Greenwood City Hall, 2 N. Madison Avenue, Greenwood (accessible by IndyGo Route 31)
The meetings are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and should be finished by 8 p.m.
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