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Statement on Small Starts Grant for Proposed Red Line

Posted by jpellman on May 1, 2017

"We’re pleased that the bipartisan federal budget deal reached Sunday evening includes $50 million in Small Starts grant funding for the Red Line bus rapid transit route.  Subject to a final vote and President Trump’s signature, this measure makes progress towards restoring the $75 million commitment made last year by the Federal Transit Authority to Indianapolis and IndyGo. 

The Red Line is the backbone of a modern mass transit system for Marion County that connects people, jobs and neighborhoods to make Indy a more convenient, competitive city.  The push for transit options has been embraced by the public and our elected officials at all levels – at the Statehouse, in the City-County Building, and overwhelmingly by voters at the ballot box last fall.    

The federal government has played a role, too – originally awarding $75 million through the Small Starts program to support the first leg of the Red Line.  When this funding was left in limbo by earlier budget proposals, we feared that local residents and employers would be forced to wait even longer for practical, accessible rapid transit service that’s already long overdue for the nation’s 14th largest city.     

So on behalf of nearly two thousand employers across Indiana’s largest metropolitan region and their collective workforce of roughly a quarter-million Hoosiers, the Indy Chamber made multiple trips do Washington to underline the importance and impact of this federal funding. And we want to thank our congressional representatives for working with us and coming to this agreement.   

Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, Congressman Andre Carson and Congresswoman Susan Brooks have recognized the importance of this project; they’ve worked diligently to ensure that the Small Starts promise is kept to bring some of our federal tax dollars home for this critical local priority.  But the job isn’t finished with a temporary deal that partially revives these programs on a short-term basis.    We urge the Congress and President Trump to make sustained investments in Small Starts, New Starts, TIGER and other public transportation funding.  Beyond the Red Line, the Marion County Transit Plan includes the Blue and Purple rapid transit routes that will ultimately serve hundreds of thousands of residents – most in urban neighborhoods where access to employment and education is vital to self-sufficiency and empowerment.  

This compromise is a promising start, but our cities deserve longer-term certainty when planning innovative transportation solutions that support economic growth, transform neighborhoods and create new taxpayers by helping people get to work, school and other daily necessities."  

- Mark Fisher, Chief Policy Officer, Indy Chamber