A study released yesterday by the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors shows widespread interest in expanding mass transit in the area.
More than three of four respondents in all nine counties surveyed - even largely rural Hancock and Shelby - said they saw a need for improved mass transportation.
The organizations, which split the $40,000 cost, wanted to assess public sentiment, said MIBOR spokesperson Claire Belby.
"We went into it without a lot of preconceptions," said Belby, whose group has not taken a position on the topic.
The Indianapolis Regional Transportation Council last month voted to accept the former Nickel Plate Line between Noblesville and Indianapolis, using diesel light rail vehicles, as the first spoke of a rapid-transit system radiating from downtown.
Yet to be worked out is how to fund the northeast transit line, which is expected to cost at least $160 million for a basic version. Service could begin as early as 2012, according to proponents.
Conducted in August by Indianapolis-based Strategic Marketing & Research Inc., the study was unveiled yesterday to legislators and the media. The 1,434 completed surveys resulted in a 2.6 percent margin of error.
The survey found that gasoline and the overall cost of transportation drove the high interest in mass transit. Congestion also was a concern.
Greater transportation options and improved economic development were considered to be additional benefits.
Respondents ranked an improved bus system as most important type of mass transit. Buses were followed by a train system, then improved sidewalks, followed by bike paths and car pooling.
Mass transit ranked below several other issues the respondents wanted government to address, but above parks and recreation as well as arts and cultural activities.
Of greater importance, they said, were public safety, education, economic development, water and sewer issues, child welfare services, and roads and highways.
However, when asked which category received too little public funding, mass transit was deemed to be in the most need.