The people in this city who decided on the Palladium-to-Stadium bus route - otherwise known as the Red Line - are determined to go ahead with that plan, even though it obviously means further delay in the needed expansion of city-wide bus service to those who would use it.
While print media publishes numerous articles and letters to the editor about how dire the city’s needs are for general public transportation - with many of which we would agree - we have seen no logical justification for beginning to move that direction by spending the first hundreds of millions of dollars on a single bus route straight through the center of the city.
A current story from the IBJ gives us the fantasy of frequency of service on the Red Line, with or without federal generosity with our own money. That will be great for patrons headed to Lucas Oil Stadium or Bankers Life Fieldhouse. But how many kids will it get to school, or employees to their jobs?
A chart on page 20A of the IBJ includes two lines, as follows:
"Red Line Phase 1 completed 2018
More buses, more frequent service 2019"
Those are projections for completion with federal aid. Without "our" federal money, you can change 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2021. And the reader should note that the reference to numbers of buses and frequency of service come after Red Line completion and with no specific reference as to where these other alleged improvements will take place.
We’re now hearing insistence that the same disastrous plan will continue, even if the major part of the necessary funding is, at best, problematic. We’re going to get a tax increase, whether or not. We think the members of the City-County Council (CCC) should keep a couple of things in mind.
The story includes reference to "infrastructure improvements." We would venture to say that a good many taxpayers who support expenditures on infrastructure "improvements" do not have in mind traffic strangling, mid-street mini bus stations.
The tax referendum was adopted, after a veritable blizzard of media support, by a margin of six to four which is now being labeled as "overwhelming." Under the circumstances, we would consider the result more of a "close call" rather than a "mandate."
This city has very real financial problems, among which is the way to assist public transportation in a way beneficial to a significant number of citizens. Moving ahead with a questionable plan and potential lack of funding which would mandate additional municipal debt is not a solution to that problem.
At this point in time, the best action the CCC could take would be no action at all.