For years here in Indianapolis, transit has beenÂ the elusive unicorn for activists. More funding for IndyGO? How about another study. Light rail? Let’s study it. Again. Recently, there was a heated debate between activists and the state legislature over a House lead effort to strip 18% of state supplied funding to transit agencies that would be used for operating expenses and federal level grant matching. The Senate inserted this funding back in and luckily, all agencies within Indiana heaved a collective sigh of relief when it passed a review. There has also been a lot of talk by our local newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, regarding the next 30 years of Indianapolis. As part of the countdown to next year’s Super Bowl, the paper has asked some of the columnists to craft articles talking about the issues that need addressed. The list is long and of course transit has received some mention, although never with much vigor.
Why then, with transit being such a contentious issue, has it not gotten as much attention as it is rightfully due? I say this obviously as someone invested in the conversation locally.Â I have devoted far too many hours of personal time to trying to move the transit conversation forward. Spent a week of my vacation in Portland for Railvolution last year. Attend many meetings. And recently, I was added to the NE Corridor Advisory Committee.Â Â All with no pay to show for it, something that my family points out often 😉
When I have a small voice to offer, I get frustrated when those with a big voice, do not follow suit. It tells me that they don’t care about it as much. Sure, there are plenty of issues to cover, and they do that well. However, it would be nice to have our local columnists taking on the issues with transit as we do. I had to make sure I was plugged into key sources on this year’s budget issues relating to transit. Otherwise, I would not have received that news. Not if I am reading the Star. Education, public safety, unions and abortion all got a lot of attention but rarely was there ever any mention of the 18% cut in transit funding.
I will wrap this little rant by linking to a couple of recent high profile articles that demonstrate what I am talking about and which fail to mention anything about public transit in their message; both of which would have been great places to insert at least a mention. You be the judge, and tell me if I am wrong about this.