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January 21, 2013

Mass transit supporters get chance to make case

INDIANAPOLIS — Supporters of increased mass transit opportunities in central Indiana will have a chance to make their case to legislators at the Statehouse on Feb. 13.

The briefing portion of the day will take place at 10 a.m. at the Indiana History Center before a rally at the North Atrium of the Statehouse, followed by a lunch and then an opportunity to meet with legislators at 1 p.m.

“Whatever your motivation for supporting transit — access to jobs, freedom, lifestyle, the environment, health, social justice, or something else — this is the day to show up and let those who represent you know how you feel,” said Kim Irwin, Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit (ICAT) coordinator.

Jen Schmits Thomas is helping to get ICAT’s word out and says one motivation of Hoosiers seems to stand tall when it comes to wanting increased mass transit options.

“The number one most important reason is access to jobs,” she said. “We know that there are jobs that are going unfilled, in particular out in Plainfield in the industrial parks. There are jobs available and people who would like those jobs don’t have the transportation to get to them.”

She added that businesses in the Metropolis mall center in Plainfield also say they have jobs available.

“We have all kinds of national studies that show that when people use transit, they are typically healthier,” Schmits Thomas added.

But any potential legislation needs to be placed on a ballot for people to vote on, she said.

“So the next time voters vote, by county they can decide if they want to add budget for transit,” Schmits Thomas said. “The big question is, will legislators allow the voters to decide?”

Schmits Thomas said future plans can be found online at Indyconnect.com, which include a multi-phase idea that could culminate with the use of what are called “bus rapid transit” vehicles.

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