Rally to support mass transit aims efforts at young professionals

Mass transit advocates continue push for expansion

INDIANAPOLIS - Although the bill to upgrade the bus system here has fallen on hard times in the General Assembly, people who would like better, more frequent service are not giving up.

Most transit efforts focus on low-income people who don't have cars or any other alternative to get to work, school and shopping, but transit advocates aimed Wednesday at the audience of students and young professionals who believe transit is the most desirable option.

A big map and several balls of colored yarn were the tools transit advocates used to make their pitch to young professionals at the Statehouse. 

The map showed the current routes in the IndyGo system that even many opponents agree is woefully small for a city this big. 

Potential riders used the yarn to show the routes they would like to have to transport them between their homes, jobs, schools, shopping and recreation. 

Sponsors said it's a way for people to make their voices heard through art.

"For too long, young people have held a passive role in the transit debate, but this is our city and this is our future so our voices must be heard," said Grace Baranowski, Indy Future spokeswoman. "The stakes are high, but the reward of transit is higher."

Joanne Hamilton rides the bus but said the service doesn't really help her neighbors, because it doesn't run early enough, late enough or on enough days, and it doesn't take them where they need to go.

"It merely goes downtown,” Hamilton said. “It doesn't connect too well with my neighbors who have to work in Avon and Plainfield and Carmel, where all the jobs are now."

Sarah Meyer said she has no choice but to ride the bus because she's blind. 

She lives on the northwest side and works in Irvington, and it takes her three hours to make the round trip.

"If I could even just cut that in half, or down to one-third of that time, I could be spending two, you know, one and a half to two hours a day investing in other areas in the community that I'm now having to invest into transportation just to get to and from my job," Meyer said.

The transit bill is still alive in a conference committee, but it no longer provides for a voter referendum on improving bus service. 

It only calls for another study this summer, and although legislative sponsors said they've offered numerous compromises to try and make the bill more meaningful, they said opponents who question the cost aren't budging. 

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