INDIANAPOLIS - Mass transit supporters in central Indiana said they won't use the Indiana State FairTrain to promote their program this year.
They're afraid the old, noisy, dirty train might give people the wrong idea of what they would get if they raised their taxes to expand transit.
At first glance the train seems like a natural to tie to a mass transit campaign.
Many people ride the train during the 17-day fair, and it uses the Noblesville to Downtown right-of-way that the proposed Green Line in the transit expansion plan would use.
But advocates are afraid its old technology might scare off potential supporters.
"Who doesn't love the State FairTrain in August?” asked Ron Gifford, head of the central Indiana Corporate Partnership that is pushing mass transit.
“It's a great historical tradition. But the technology that would be used in that corridor on what we call the Green Line would be totally different. So we don't want to confuse people into thinking that that's what they would see once that transit line gets built out. We're talking about vehicles that are quieter, faster, sleeker, energy-efficient using alternative fuels," Gifford said.
Transit lost steam in April when the Senate killed the plan to put a referendum on the 2014 ballot to create a transit district in Marion and Hamilton counties and decided just to study the issue.
Advocates hope to start rebuilding enthusiasm when those study committee hearings begin next Monday.
Some have grumbled that the long gap between the end of the legislative session and now could destroy interest.
But the bill's House sponsor hopes for the opposite effect.
"We kinda lost a little momentum when the Senate changed it to the study committee anyway. So I think the later we put off the study committee... I'm hoping that the study committee will regenerate...regenerate folks, hoping that will carry on into the legislative session in January. So I think maybe it's a little better this way," said Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.
The transit committee's first hearing will be Monday.
Transit supporters hope the study committee will recommend creating a transit district and a funding source, while leaving the choice of routes and vehicles to transit officials.
Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6