Effort to lift Indiana's ban on light rail fails

Effort was to help win Amazon's 2nd headquarters
Posted at 9:11 AM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-06 09:11:04-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The effort to lift Indiana's ban on light rail failed in the Senate Monday.

Some lawmakers had hoped to get the ban lifted to make Indianapolis more attractive as a home for Amazon's second headquarters.

The movement made it out of a House committee, but the Senate ultimately did not act on the bill.

Amazon said direct access to rail, train, subway/metro and bus routes is one of four key requirements in its request for proposals.

State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis) said in January that all mass transit options needed to be on the table to keep Indy in the race for Amazon's second headquarters. 

"The City of Indianapolis needs to have the flexibility to employ whatever we need for mass transit to meet the needs of companies that are considering moving to Indianapolis, as well as the existing residents here that are looking for a more robust system," said Moed.

The timing of the movement to lift the light rail ban coincided with an amendment Sen. Delph filed to the bill. That amendment would have prohibited Marion County from using any transit dollars for light rail until the county has "substantially remedied" the pothole problem this year, and developed and implemented an "acceptable written plan" to remedy the pothole problem in future winters.

If you look at the 20 cities that made Amazon's cut, nearly all have some sort of rail system in place, except Indianapolis and Columbus. Raleigh has commuter and light rail service in the works.

Indianapolis does have bus service and work on the Red Line is underway. The 13-mile electric rapid transit line will feature battery-powered buses that make stops every ten minutes. 

Republicans pushed for the state's ban on light rail back in 2014 because of the cost.

RTV6 asked Rodric Bray in January if he thinks a lack of rail could work against Indianapolis in its Amazon bid.

"They're going to have to weigh that with all that Indianapolis has to offer, and I think we have a lot of wonderful things to offer here in Indiana that could be attractive and pull them into the state," said Bray.

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