|Congressman Carson: Letter to Mayor Ballard|
May 24, 2010
The Honorable Greg Ballard
Dear Mayor Ballard:
A few weeks ago, I was pleased to see your administration commit to providing the necessary stop-gap funding for the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library-assuring six local libraries in challenged neighborhoods will remain open for the immediate future. Your swift action and leadership on this issue was greatly appreciated by me and many residents across the city.
With severe funding cuts on the horizon for IndyGo, I am writing to respectfully ask you to step in and take that same approach with our ailing city bus system.
Like our local libraries, IndyGo provides an essential service to communities of need-people who often have no alternative options. IndyGo is the only mode of transportation for thousands of people in our neighborhoods. The system is, in essence, a gateway to economic opportunity for many riders, connecting them to their jobs and essential community services. By eliminating three bus routes altogether and removing key stops from dozens of others, our community runs the risk of closing that economic gateway for many riders and potentially putting them out of jobs. And it appears IndyGo itself could shed jobs and layoff drivers due to the pending cuts. All of these are dismal prospects given our already challenged economic climate.
Secondly, as our community again discusses the future of regional transportation through the Indy Connect initiative, it concerns me that these cuts could deal a near-fatal blow to IndyGo. This would send a mixed message to residents at a time when IndyGo is being touted as a key player in the expansion of mass transit. If we are to one day move toward a comprehensive mass transit system in the Indianapolis region, which I believe is key to our long-term economic growth as a metropolitan area, then we must keep IndyGo viable. That means looking to improve-not cut back on service.
Understanding IndyGo's ongoing challenges, I have focused on bringing in vital federal resources to help the bus system better serve our community. Over the last two years, we were able to secure more than $1 million in federal appropriations for bus replacement, and have requested additional funds this year. Through the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, nearly $16 million was awarded to IndyGo to upgrade and revitalize their maintenance facility and purchase 22 new buses.
While IndyGo is a municipal corporation managed exclusively by local leaders, my office has continued to search for even more federal dollars to address the immediate budget crunch. From the time the $3.2 million in cuts was announced, my office has worked to connect IndyGo President and CEO Mike Terry with federal officials, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. We reached out to several Federal Transit Administration leaders to explain the difficult circumstances facing IndyGo-all in an effort to explore federal options for emergency stopgap funding. Thus far, our work has turned up no viable options that would meet the quick timeframe (with proposed route cuts taking place in mid-July).
That is why I am respectfully asking the city to consider stepping in to help IndyGo address this budget shortfall created by property tax caps. Having the opportunity to work with you on a number of initiatives and key issues over the past two years, I know you have an understanding of the struggles many of our residents face-especially when it comes to public transportation. That's why I have confidence that you will fully consider the pain and hardship that will befall many residents if these cuts take effect.
The people of this city want problems solved, and that requires leaders of all parties and at all levels of government to work together. I've prided myself on taking this approach representing Indiana's 7th District, and I've been pleased to see you do the same in your role as mayor. Thank you for your time and consideration on this issue. I've always appreciated our positive working relationship, and I look forward to that continuing.
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