Expanding bus services in Greenwood area could involve income tax increase

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GREENWOOD, Ind – The Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (IMPO) is currently conducting a study to determine how best to expand public transit services in the Greenwood area.

The study is collecting information about which specific areas could benefit most from more bus services and what types of improvements would be most effective.

“We’re starting by looking at work access,” said IMPO Deputy Director, Sean Northup. “We’re looking at where the jobs are and where the populations are.”

One early area of concentration is the always-busy Greenwood Park Mall area in Pleasant Township.

“More than half the workers in Pleasant Township are coming from Indianapolis,” Northup said. “And almost half of the workforce that lives in it, people that work there that are employed, are working in Indianapolis.”

The study is also focusing on the industrial park area east of I-65, which has grown by thousands of workers in the last several years.

“Those employers are telling us that transportation issues account for about a third of the turnover in that industrial park,” Northup said.

Depending on the study’s findings, options for improved bus service could include extending the IndyGo Red Line beyond Greenwood Park mall to include areas farther south along U.S. 31. The study could also suggest adding to the fleet and services of Access Johnson County, Johnson County’s only public bus service.

Funding for any improvements would likely come from a 0.25% income tax increase within the townships that see expanded services. Part of the study is researching how much revenue could be raised by such an increase, and how the funding could improve services.

According to Northup, a 0.25% income tax increase could generate $3.7 to $4.1 million per year in Pleasant Township, $4.6 to $5 million per year in White River Township, and $1.3 to $1.5 million per year in Franklin Township.

The tax increase would only happen if township board members decided to put the question up as an income tax ballot referendum and voters in the township approved.

“My immediate family and myself don’t have any use for the bus line,” said Greenwood resident Leslie Jones. “I would probably vote no.”

“Yeah, I would be okay with that,” said another Greenwood resident named Bruce. “I think anytime we have mass transit we are much better off as a community”

Bargersville resident Jennifer Mauer said she’s not opposed to the idea, but she would need more information before voting “yes.”

“Is it truly servicing the people that need it,” she said. “Is it going to help them get to places of employment?”

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers supports expanding public bus services to support the growing parts of the community.

“A lot of our residents work in Marion County and they need that transportation up, and a lot of our workers come from Marion County down into Greenwood every day,” Myers said.

The Mayor also believes expanding bus services could help ease some traffic congestion in the busiest parts of Greenwood.

“With every person riding a bus, we have one person not driving a car,” Myers said.

At the same time, Myers knows passing a tax increase can be a tall order.

“We talk to people who say I’m never going to use it, but if it does help our economy, I would support it,” he said. “We have others who say no I don’t want to support it.”

“All I want, at the end of the day, is for the public to have the right to vote on it,” Myers continued.

The study is expected to be complete this fall. At that point, the findings will be presented to local government leaders to decide what actions to take and how to present it to voters.

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