Public transit advocates rally at statehouse

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 10, 2015) – Transit advocates gathered at the statehouse Tuesday to encourage lawmakers to provide more funding for public transportation. The third annual Transit Day drew a crowd of about 70 people from all over the Hoosier state.

The transit supporters’ main message was that the current funding for public transportation is making it tough for agencies to provide adequate services.

State level transit funding has been stagnant for 7 years at $42.5 million,” said Kim Irwin, from the Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit. “There are 65 transit agencies around the state, in small rural communities as well as urban centers like Indianapolis, that share that money. It’s just not sufficient to meet the need.”

State Representative Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette) authored a bill aiming to increase the funding to $60 million. Truitt said the major roadblock to making that a reality is that there is limited money to go around.

There are also lawmakers who question the sustainability of more mass transit in Indiana. Some communities are struggling to succeed when it comes to making public transit a popular option for residents.

Irwin cited an overall increase in ridership around the state over the last few years as a sign that there is interest in more public transportation.

“We are seeing increasing demand,” Irwin said. “Ridership is going up year over year. Across the state, we are up 15 percent over last five years and some communities have seen two and three fold increases in their ridership.”

The transportation supporters said the services provide a lifeline to many Hoosiers.

“In our smaller more rural areas,  it’s about getting seniors and people with disabilities to medical appointments and to jobs so they can be as independent as possible,” Irwin said.

At the end of the rally, attendees were encouraged to meet with their legislators to discuss the funding issue.