INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Supporters of a new mass transit system in Central Indiana won't give up, and they got some help Tuesday from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.
The plan to build a bigger, better bus system is something Mayor Ballard, a Republican, has supported from the beginning. The state Senate voted to send the proposal to a summer study committee but supporters hope to revive plans for a 2014 referendum before lawmakers go home.
The plan is based on studies that began in the '70s and the mayor told a conference committee that it's time for action.
"That plan has been studied, and studied and studied," said Ballard. "That plan is there."
The mayor passed up the opportunity to testify before a state senate committee weeks ago before the transit plan was put on the shelf but he had little choice this time.
"We ask you to continue this journey," he said. "We think that mass transit for Central Indiana is so important for the continued economic development."
No one at this meeting stood up to speak against the mass transit plan. Among those speaking for it was Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, another Republican, who argued that local officials will take the heat for the tax hike needed to pay for a mass transit system.
"We're mostly talking about an enhanced bus system," said Cook, "a bus system that most cities of our size have and take for granted."
In the end both mayors abandoned factual arguments to make emotional appeals.
"If you miss the bigger picture about having a horrible mass transit system as we do and you don't think that affects talent not coming into the area, I'm sorry I have to disagree," said Ballard.
The conference committee held no public deliberations. No matter what it does there will be another mass transit debate next year.
What the mayor is trying to avoid is the need to start from scratch in an election year.
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