EDITORIAL: New transit study focuses on return as well as cost

 IBJ Staff
February 13, 2010
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IBJ Editorial

Central Indiana is much better at churning out transportation studies than implementing a real transit system, but there’s reason to take seriously the report released Feb. 10 by the Central Indiana Transit Task Force.

Unlike its predecessors, the new study wasn’t the brainchild of environmentalists or people whose jobs revolve around promoting non-car travel. The task force was led by Allan Hubbard, co-founder of locally based acquisition firm E&A Industries and an economic adviser to both Bush administrations. The group also included representatives of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Central Indiana Community Foundation.

The business-savvy group’s charge was to view transit through an economic lens. Its conclusion: A $6.7 billion, multi-modal system that would cost more than $100 million a year to operate would be worth the money.

The payoff, says the new report, would be a region better able to attract jobs, talent and investment. More specifically, a rail line from Fishers to Greenwood and an east-west transit system on or near Washington Street could be a magnet for developments worth billions of dollars.

The study’s findings aren’t groundbreaking. Most cities our size already have a transit system. Yes, such systems are expensive, but when implemented thoughtfully they can become an economic engine.

As the new report’s findings are vetted at a series of public forums over the next 10 months, most of the discussion will focus on the cost of a transit system and how to pay for it. That’s as it should be—but the potential return on investment should not be forgotten.

Stop ‘guns at work’

Bills that would prevent businesses from prohibiting guns on company property flew through the Indiana House and Senate last month, and that’s as far as they should go.

Gov. Mitch Daniels ought to step in with a veto.

The bills, which would prevent employers from prohibiting guns kept in vehicles on company property, passed overwhelmingly—41-9 in the Senate and 76-21 in the House. Daniels would risk a probable override if he were to put his prestige on the line with a veto. Yet, we hope he does.

Businesses concerned about guns as a threat to employee safety should be able to prohibit them on company property. The state shouldn’t usurp that authority because of pressure from the National Rifle Association, which asserts, among other things, that employees might need a gun for protection when traveling home through rough neighborhoods.

Legislators reluctant to dictate to businesses on the issue of smoking in the workplace seem all too eager to impose the government’s will in this case.•


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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.