Global, and Fascinating, Numbers

A few totally unrelated numbers in which I’m guessing at least one will cause a “Wow!” reaction:

  • 10 — seconds between buses at stops on the rapid transit system in Bogota, Colombia. The system transports nearly 40,000 passengers per hour — or about 1.6 million per day
  • 244,000 — decline in Japan’s population last year, a record. The country’s population could fall from the current 127 million to 87 million by 2060 (with almost 40% of those residents being age 65 or older)
  • 1 — number of people killed by police in Iceland’s history. The incident took place in December after a man in a Reykjavik apartment complex began firing at officers
  • 74% — share of the world’s skyscrapers completed last year that were in Asian countries. Asia is home to 45% of the tallest buildings in the world

Indy Still Miles Behind on Mass Transit Compared to Other Cities

While mass transit in Central Indiana finally received a somewhat-limiting go-ahead from the Indiana General Assembly in the recently completed session, others with long-established systems are moving forward.

A recent Governing article noted:

  • Boston plans to extend weekend transit service until 3 a.m. Young professionals gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the longer hours for subways, light rail, streetcars and buses.

And here, it took three years to get state permission to have a local referendum to approve a system that would likely only include some faster buses (light rail not allowed). Just saying that despite Indiana being a great place to live, we’re way, way behind on this amenity.

  • London plans 24-hour weekend service on some subway lines in 2015. Chicago, New York and Philadelphia already do the same.

Why is this so important? The article notes: “As young professionals, many of whom are car-free, seek out vibrant cities in which to live and work, this is seen as a way to attract them. … Transit at all times ensures that mobility is available to everyone.”

Indy Connect Now Pushes Legislators on Mass Transit

Over 120 members and supporters of Indy Connect Now are pushing Indiana legislators — via a letter — to support the mass transit bill to enhance connectivity in Central Indiana — a sentiment held by many businesses and organizations across the state. The letter reads as follows:

Dear Legislator,
As community leaders in central Indiana, we strongly encourage the Indiana General Assembly to pass substantive transit legislation before it adjourns in order to give our community the ability to make its own decisions about investing in a regional transit system.

The Indianapolis Region will not continue to grow and prosper unless we make strategic investments in our community, including in a robust regional transit system. Study after study has recognized the need for building such a system in our region. Cities all across America have realized the benefits from investing in good transit systems, and our inability to make that investment puts us at a competitive disadvantage.

The issue has been studied long enough. Following the release of the last legislative study report on this issue in December 2008, a Task Force of public and private sector partners proposed a transit system that most effectively meets the needs of our community. For the past four years, that proposal has been refined with input from thousands of residents, advice from the best planning experts in the country, and best practices from cities around the country.

The time has come to let the voters decide whether they want to invest in this proposed system. All we ask is that the General Assembly gives us the same flexibility to use local funds that it previously gave to 15 other counties and to let us present the question to voters, similar to what is now required for school capital projects. With support that is trending upward, it is time to allow voters to determine whether or not our communities will be competitive and meet transportation needs in the next decade and beyond.

If this legislation passes now, it will allow us to have a robust discussion for the next eighteen months about the wisdom of making this investment. Residents will then be able to make an informed decision about funding an expanded regional transit system. It is imperative that the General Assembly act now to provide this opportunity to the residents of central Indiana.

Brinegar Speaks on Indiana Budget, Speedway Upgrades

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar sat down with Inside INdiana Business recently to discuss the most pressing topics in the state legislature as the end of session nears. See the video on IIB:

A bill that would create a tax district to fund upgrades at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continues to make its way through the legislature. Some lawmakers want to add guarantees that would protect state funds if the facility would be sold. In this week's INside the Statehouse segment, Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar says he's "cautiously optimistic" the legislation will pass.

Our partners at Network Indiana/WIBC report a proposed amendment to the bill calls for the speedway to receive a portion of the money the horse racing industry now receives as a loan, rather than forming a tax district. The chance would also give an additional $5 million to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. for other motorsports industry efforts.

Brinegar says the Indiana House and Senate are not too far apart on a two-year state budget. He believes the final product will look closest to the Senate's proposal, which passed through committee last week. That plan includes a smaller individual income tax cut than the 10 percent proposed by Governor Mike Pence and an increase in K-12 funding by more than $330 million. Pence has called the proposal "a good start."

Differences also remain on education issues. The Senate has passed a bill that would halt the implementation of Common Core standards. House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (R-91) has refused to hear the bill because he believes the standards should move forward.

Upcoming Mass Transit Events in Central Indiana

As many of you know, the Indiana Chamber supports Indiana's mass transit bill (HB 1011). Here are some upcoming events that will help educate the public and rally support for the measure. If interested, you should attend:

Tuesday, March 26
Young Professionals Transit Forum
Location: IUPUI Library (UL 0125)
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 27
Indy Connect Now Forum
Location: Marian University
Time: 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Thursday, March 28
Hamilton County Leadership Transit Forum (HCLA & Carmel Green Initiatives)
Location: Carmel City Hall
Time: 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 30
Inagural Indiana Eco Student Summit (IUPUI)
Location: IUPUI
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday, April 1
Public Town Hall with Mike Delph (IndyCAN)
Location: Pilgrim Lutheran Church of Carmel (3650 W 106th St Carmel, IN 46032)
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2
Move the City: Stop Talking, Start Playing (School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI)
Location: Athenaeum
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Tuesday, April 9
Green Drinks Indy (Transit)
Location: Tomlinson Tap Room
Time: 6 p.m.
Monday, April 15
Northeast Indy Transit Advocacy event (with BRAG, Millersville, others)
Location: St. Matthews
Time: 7 – 8:30 p.m.
*Stay tuned as more details come together