INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Senate voted to pass a mass transit bill allowing Marion County and surrounding counties to pursue mass transportation programs if they chose to do so.
Madison County is one of the counties that could choose to make its own transportation system, but it will be up to the county's Council of Government and voters.
Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis, authored Senate Bill 176 with the goal of improving Indianapolis' transportation routes as No. 1 priority. The bill passed 28-20.
"I think our mass transit is woefully inadequate for being the capital city of Indiana," Miller said. "We have bad routes and we don't have the high-quality new type of buses that are available."
She said she thinks the city's bad transportation underserves not only the residents of the Indianapolis area but also visitors to the city. She said countless other cities the same size as Indianapolis have much better transit systems.
"I think we need to improve and I think we should improve it," Miller said.
The bill now moves to the Indiana House where Miller said she is hopeful it will pass.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, signed on to the bill as one of the co-authors because of the impact it could have on Madison County. Although he said he supports most of the provisions in the bill and likes the concept, he voted against the bill Tuesday.
"I still support this bill in concept," Lanane said. "But there are still some things we need to work on."
Lanane supports the idea of communities being able to build rail or light rail tracks as part of a transit system if voters are in favor. While in committee, an amendment was added to specifically forbid light rail as an option.
"There were some people who thought the rails would be too expensive," Lanane said. "But I thought we should leave them as an option since it's ultimately up to the voters to decide what they want."