Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard sat out an April 2 hearing on mass transit because he knew the issue would be shifted to the Legislature’s back burner.
“Since we knew this was the likely outcome today, he was willing to let other voices be heard,” spokesman Marc Lotter said after the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee amended the mass-transit-expansion bill to create a study committee on the issue.
Without the amendment, the bill would have allowed Marion and surrounding counties to set up a regional transit authority and hold a referendum on whether to raise local income taxes to pay for an expanded system. The 10-year plan called for doubling bus service and adding rapid transit from Noblesville to downtown, plus other routes.
The original proposal still could pass this session, but it would have to be restored in conference committee. If that fails, mass-transit advocates will have to start over in 2014. Lotter said starting over is not necessarily a death sentence for the issue.
“Even if it does go to study committee, the intent was always to have the referendum in 2014,” Lotter said.