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Next Steps Following Pence Signing Transit Bill
Updated March 27, 2014 7:10 AM
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(UNDATED) - Now that Governor Pence has signed the mass transit bill into law, the next step is taking it to voters in six counties.

"This marks a significant step forward for the growth of Indy and the rest of Central Indiana," read a statement from Mayor Greg Ballard, who has long called for more public transportation in the region. But Ballard also said there is much work to be done.

"Mayor Ballard wants to sit down with all of our many partners on this issue to really think this through and make sure we give it proper planning and due thought that's necessary," said Ballard's spokesman, Marc Lotter.

Senate Bill 176 did not give many mass transit supporters everything they wanted, including Ballard.

But Lotter says they at least got something. "That was the goal, keep the bill moving forward year after year. We knew this would be a long term process."

State lawmakers passed the bill this year after sending to a summer study committee in the 2013 session.

Light rail will not be part of any transit expansion - the governor said one reason he signed the bill was because light rail was removed, adding that he thought rail would be too expensive for taxpayers. Lotter says you never say never to light rail in the future, but says that isn't what Ballard and others will focus on for now.

"Planners are moving forward with the idea of studying the various routes to determine what is the most economical and best mode of moving people and commerce."

Six counties are included in the bill - Marion, Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson and Madison.

Talks among those county officials will begin soon as to when to hold referendums on boosting local income taxes to pay for a transit expansion.

"That's part of the process that has to be determined in terms of the timing that's best for those counties, when they want to opt in or whether they want to opt in to the system," Lotter said.

The law allows townships to opt in if county governments reject a transit referendum.



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