INDIANAPOLIS — A mass transit system for central Indiana got the green light Wednesday after Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law.
Pence said in a statement it was time for Indiana’s capital to have a mass transit system and, despite his reservations about the sustainability of a transit system, he believed the decision to have one should be up to individual communities.
The bill allows for six Indiana counties, including Madison and Delaware counties, to set up a mass transit system if the respective voters approve of it. Madison County Council would have to place the item on the ballot in November and voters could decide if they wanted a transit system and how much they would be willing to pay for it. The cost of the system would be paid for with fare prices, local tax increases and donations from business corporations.
State Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said he was glad the governor signed the bill and called it a step in the right direction.
“I think this is a positive thing for Indiana,” Lanane said. “It provides a framework where a county can come to its own decision on what is best for them.”
He said he didn’t know if the bill would pass in Madison County but noted there are a lot of people a good transit system would help out.
“The elderly, people with low incomes, people without a car. They could all benefit from a mass transit system,” Lanane said.
The Mass Transit bill was very controversial during the 2014 legislative session. Lawmakers couldn’t agree on whether light rail should be included as an option or whether businesses should have to bear some of the financial cost as well. When it was first introduced, the bill included a light rail option and a 10 percent tax on large businesses.