Senate Bill could prohibit efficient upgrade for public transit

NOW: Senate Bill could prohibit efficient upgrade for public transit

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Right now, South Bend’s public transportation agency, Transpo, is keeping a close eye on legislation moving through the Indiana Statehouse.

The first, Senate Bill 52, would stop local governments from creating and using dedicated bus lanes.

This comes as Indianapolis transit company IndyGo plans construction for expanding their dedicated bus lines.

The second, Senate Bill 187, would prohibit free or reduced fares for bus riders on Election Day, something the city has offered in years past.

SB187 hasn’t received much action recently so Transpo is not too worried about it moving forward, but they do worry about SB52's potential ban on dedicated bus lanes, saying it would take away critical local authority if implemented.

“These decisions really should be left to local governments and local communities,” says General Manager and CEO of Transpo, Amy Hill.

Otherwise known as BRT, the system isn’t anything we see in South Bend currently, but down at the state capital, these lanes allow faster and more cost-effective operations for public busing.

However, if SB52 is adopted, it's not something that can be considered.

“As we continue to seek additional investment to improve service in our region, we’d certainly want to be able to look at that as an option,” Hill says.

It’s a hot topic nationwide.

Hill says after attending the American Public Transportation Association Conference over the weekend, she says the legislation is surprising to others in the industry across the country.

For her, the adoption of SB52 would set a precedent as to how our elected officials view the possibilities of making public transit more efficient for taxpayers.

“We really just want to have a general consensus and continue to promote the expansion of public transportation across the state of Indiana,” says Hill.

There is a hearing scheduled for SB52 Tuesday morning down at the statehouse, it will be heard by the House’s Roads and Transportation Committee.

Hill expects a large public turnout for the hearing.

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