Backers of mass transit in Central Indiana say it will improve public safety

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As a bill to allow voters to cast ballots on improving mass transit moves through the Statehouse, supporters of the legislation said it could improve public safety.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry joined with mass transit backers to claim an improved bus system from Noblesville to Greenwood would not only bring economic benefits to the metro area, but also make neighborhoods more secure.

“The development of effective transportation has proven to be a deterrent to criminal activity,” said Curry at a news conference where he was flanked by other supporters. “That is, the development which occurs, the improvement of the surrounding area as is, again, our ability to get individuals where they need to be in our criminal justice system.”

Curry said that mass transit becomes a public safety issues when it comes to giving victims, families and even defendants convenient access to courts, the prosecutor’s office and probation officials.

“Part of our focus is how many obstacles can we remove to an individual’s productive re-entry into our community and transportation is certainly one component of that as well.”

The price of a gallon of gasoline inched up to $3.95 a gallon and that has supporters of the legislation, and bus riders without cars, thinking about improving the metro area’s bus system.

“We are concerned about how people will move about when gas prices are $4 to $5 a gallon,” said Kas Vargo of Bindford Redevelopment and Growth, Inc., which represents the northeast corridor where an expanded mass transit system would be built. “Good public transit will be critical for getting people to work and essential public services.”

Gerald Cole was waiting for a bus to pick him up in front of the federal courthouse on Ohio Street.

“I’m going to have to get my schooling where it’s on the bus schedule, the bus line,” Cole said. “Get the job where it’s on the bus line, where it’s convenient and it’s not late and it’s going to have me late and jeopardize me to lose a job.”

Other passengers said an improved system could knit together the community and families.

“I think it would be better for the children,” said Monteith Beverly, who said he rides the bus between three jobs. “It would definitely help the parents who are together, who aren’t together, who depend on the city transit to bring the children where they could go the direction they should go.”

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