Mass transit plan on table

County seeks residents’ input through survey

A long discussed plan to create a new mass transit route in central Indiana has been approved in Marion County, but hasn’t yet been voted on locally.

Now, a central Indiana transportation group is planning to fan out in northern Johnson County to find out what residents think about mass transit, whether they would use it and what type would be best for their community.

Residents of at least one township in the county could be asked to vote on a possible funding option for a mass transit plan as soon as next year.

The Red Line, a rapid transit bus route from Hamilton to Johnson counties, has been discussed for years. Last year, voters in Marion County approved an increase to their income tax rate to help fund the route, and voters in Hamilton and Johnson counties could also be asked to approve a similar referendum in 2018 or 2020.

The rapid transit bus route would pass through Hamilton, Marion and Johnson counties, with dedicated lanes and a limited number of stops from Carmel to Greenwood. The proposed bus line will run through Greenwood with three stops in Pleasant Township, where more than 57,000 people live.

In Indianapolis, the vote was citywide, but in other areas, voters in townships along the route would consider a 0.25 percent income tax increase. Residents in Pleasant Township, which includes areas of Greenwood, Whiteland and New Whiteland, would pay the tax increase.

Before that, Indy Connect, which has been planning the mass transit project, will be asking local residents to respond to a survey about their thoughts and preferences for mass transit. Residents can expect to see people asking them to take surveys at libraries, the Greenwood Park Mall and festivals, including the Freedom Festival in Greenwood.

“We want to know, are people interested in transit in Johnson County? And if so, what type and how do we plan it,” said Anna Gremling, executive director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is part of Indy Connect.

The results of the surveys will be shared with the public and local officials, Gremling said.

Pleasant Township Trustee Mary Ann Powell hopes those results will show whether local residents want mass transit here, she said.

Only Pleasant Township voters would be asked to vote in a public referendum on funding for a mass transit plan under the proposal for the Red Line. The township advisory board would have to make the decision to put the question on the ballot, and have not done that so far because they have not had enough information, Powell and board members said.

The next opportunity to get the question on ballots is in 2018, but the board has not decided if that will happen and wants more information, Powell said.

At the least, the survey will help spur discussions about mass transit in Johnson County, Gremling said. Discussions first started in Marion County in 2008 and 2009, and no vote was taken until 2016, she said.

She hopes the survey results will show how much interest local residents have in mass transit, and how it might help, such as by getting people to work, she said.

That data can then be used in the future planning of mass transit projects, she said. Residents in Hamilton County are also being asked to take the survey.

At a glance

Indy Connect, a mass transit planning group, has created a survey to get residents’ thoughts about mass transit.

You can take the survey online at

https://talktransitjohnson.metroquest.com/

Indy Connect workers will also be at events and local attractions, such as libraries, Greenwood Park Mall and the Greenwood Freedom Festival, this summer asking people to take the survey.

Author photo
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.