February 03, 2015
Demand for public transportation in Indiana has never been higher. Yet the state’s Public Mass Transportation Fund (PMTF) has been flat, at $42.5 million, for seven years. For that reason, the Indiana Citizens’ Alliance for Transit (ICAT) and partners are launching the INvest INtransit campaign.
ICAT supports a bi-partisan proposal by Indiana legislators, who agree that transit funds need to be increased in order to meet Hoosiers’ demand and need for public transportation.
The PMTF is distributed among 65 public and nonprofit agencies that operate traditional fixed-route as well as on-demand service, where people schedule rides in advance. However, based on current funding, those agencies cannot meet increasing demand. They routinely have to turn down or reschedule requests, because they don’t have the funds to expand their fleets or hire more drivers. At the same time, Indiana hospitals, hotels and other businesses are asking for expanded routes, longer hours and more frequent service.
Rep. Randy Truitt, R-Lafayette, has introduced a bill (HB 1215) that would boost the PMTF to $60 million. Representatives Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, David Ober, R-Albion, and David Niezgodski, D-South Bend are co-authors. Gov. Pence, on the other hand, has included a 3-percent cut for transit funding in his proposed state budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
“Transit funding is critical for the economic livelihood of businesses, communities and individuals throughout Indiana,” said Kim Irwin, executive director of Health by Design, which convenes ICAT. “It simply doesn’t make sense to flatline or reduce transit spending when the demand for service in Indiana continues to increase.”
Study after study shows transit use is increasing. In Indiana, ridership was up 15 percent from 2004 to 2013, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation’s 2013 Indiana Public Transit Annual Report. Nationally, in 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion transit trips, the highest total since the 1950s, when the nation shifted to a car-centric culture and the highway building boom took off.
Experts predict the demand for public transportation will continue to increase nationally as well as throughout Indiana, because of the aging population, Millennial’s decreasing use of cars, concerns about health and the environment, the instability of fuel prices and more.
For more information, visit indianacat.org.