(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana Department of Transportation officials say any effort to beef up mass transit will probably be up to local and regional leaders, not INDOT.
Indiana collected about 70-million dollars in mass-transit money this year from a dozen federal programs. But almost all of it goes to maintain existing city bus systems and the South Shore Railroad from South Bend to Chicago.
Legislative liaison Chris Kiefer says INDOT is about to begin a mass transit study, but says it'll be up to local leaders to implement the findings. The Indianapolis area has been assessing a possible regional bus or light-rail system for six years. And the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which oversees the south shore, is weighing the possibility of extending train service to Valparaiso and Crown Point.
Some legislators question whether the state's wasting money on highway construction when mass transit could pull cars off the road. Kiefer says mass transit may mean buses, and they run on highways.
And Portland Representative Bill Davis says it's doubtful mass transit will ever reach rural communities like his. He says those parts of the state are dependent on highways for economic development.
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