Make public transportation a priority

Dateline: Sat 25 Apr 2009

Tim Maloney, senior policy adviser for the Hoosier Environmental Council was, like his colleagues, always willing to take the time to explain to journalists and others key issues that affect the state's well-being.

Now HEC is beating its drums for public transit, a resource Indiana sorely needs. As with other programs, federal dollars are tied to our efforts to make improvements; the more financial muscle we can put behind the issue, the more money we'll draw down. And as Tim points out, there's a direct correlation between public transportation and jobs. The goal here is economic vitality.

Tim sent an update today on crucial legislation that may be up for a vote as soon as Monday. Please read it and follow your conscience:

"With only days remaining in the legislative session, legislation that is critical to funding our future public transit needs is still in play. Final votes in the House and Senate will occur as soon as Monday, April 27th, and legislative action must be completed by April 29th.

What you can do:

Tell your senator and representative to support transit legislation that will allow communities statewide to establish regional transportation districts to build, operate, and fund public transit systems, including buses, trolleys and light rail. This legislation should include the language of HB 1660, which passed the House but never received a hearing in the Senate.

"It's important this legislation pass now, because:

\tBus systems in communities throughout Indiana are struggling because of reduced local revenues; and,

\tIndiana communities must demonstrate a local funding match to take advantage of significant increases in federal transit funding - billions of dollars will be available for communities prepared to move ahead with modern transit systems.

"Why we need your help:

Expanding public transit in Indiana will create green jobs, help revive our urban centers, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among public transit's benefits are:

\tWorkforce mobility- cities and towns are more desirable by offering cost-effective ways of getting to and from their workplaces and community services.

\tNeighborhood redevelopment: - walkable urban neighborhoods are the fastest growing real estate sector.

\tEnergy savings - public transit use in America saves the equivalent of 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

\tPublic health - public transit takes vehicles off the roads, reducing air pollution.

"Remember to remind your legislator:

Americans are seeking real transportation choices. Public transit ridership is up nationwide, and in Indiana. Several local bus systems saw double digit increases in ridership last year, including Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Gary. The Indiana Department of Transportation's recent mass transit study found strong demand statewide for more public transit, as did the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce's opinion poll finding that 87% of central Indiana residents wanted more transit options in metro Indy.

"Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) is a key legislator on transit funding. Be sure to let him know your support for transit, as well as your own legislators.

Email: s20@in.gov\t\tTelephone: 317-232-9400

"For more information on public transit and how to contact your state legislator, go to http://www.hecweb.org/content.cfm?n=legislate2009 .

"Contact: Tim Maloney, Hoosier Environmental Council, tmaloney@hecweb.org

"

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