Define Benefit

State Senator Luke Kenley is quoted in a news story about the public transportation bill currently before the General Assembly.

“I have a surprisingly large number of constituents who are strongly opposed to this,”  says Sen. Kenley (R-Noblesville.)  “They just feel like it’s going to be a tax increase on them without any particular benefit.”

There are a number of responses that come to mind: the most obvious is that all the bill requires is an opportunity for the citizens who will be taxed to vote on the matter. Those opposed will have an opportunity to make that opposition known.

That said, the belief that those who wouldn’t use public transportation wouldn’t benefit from its availability is incredibly short-sighted. We all benefit from cleaner air, economic development and improved quality of life–all outcomes associated with the availability of good public transportation systems. The attitude displayed by Kenley’s constituents reminds me of people who don’t want to support good schools, because their own children are grown, despite ample evidence that a good school system adds to property values and an educated workforce is a requirement for economic development.

These are all tangible benefits that even the whiners will enjoy. But we might also wonder whether there isn’t some intangible benefit in creating a community that works for everyone, not just the self-satisfied “makers” with two cars parked in the garage of their suburban home in a gated community.


  1. These Carmel / Fishers / Nobelsville Republicans get much more from Indianapolis than they put in. We keep building more and more roads to enable their pamper behinds. I would LOVE to see a commuter tax. If they work in Indy and sleep in the suburbs, Indianapolis should be collecting some tax money for the cost of moving them in and out of town every day and for keeping them safe during the work day. They should be paying for this and quit being such freeloaders. Take Take Take. Thats all these folks do.

  2. People are always people who are short-sighted. Remember what people said about the “iron horse”? Oh, wait – that one actually DID destroy our community life, and even our communities. But it was quick! Talk about a toll, though!

    SOME intangible benefit? Both tangible and intangible benefits will be huge! Communities and businesses will thrive, due to slower paced traffic and the ability to just stop and smell the roses on a whim!

  3. Maybe the people up there are smart enough to know that given Indianapolis pay-to-play political structure the huge public expenditure for mass transit will be swallowed up by graft?

  4. You make this sound so easy, but it isn’t so clear-cut.

    If there isn’t a equivalent decrease in motor traffic to make up for the proposed transit traffic, then one is actually increasing the negative consequences upon the environment. Building a light rail is not the panacea that is so often touted by the over-simplified proponents and media.

    Personally, I would like to live where mass transit allowed me to dump having a car per person. But, I’m not really interested in funding half-measures and pie-in-the-sky toy trains. The current plans are sub-standard in concept, and I imagine in practical design as well. This isn’t a cut-and-paste world, in my opinion, and the current proposal falls flat in my estimation.

  5. Well, Paul, that’s an all-purpose excuse for never making infrastructure investments–that some of the money might be siphoned off by profiteers. We need to make these investments, and if we don’t we’ll all be the poorer for our lack of foresight.

  6. Of course, citing the railroad always takes you back to the canal system, so buying into technology doesn’t always work. Still, a referendum, especially one involving income taxes, seems perfectly reasonable. That said, I’m always more wary of property tax referendums, since, particularly in Marion County, there are a lot more voters who pay very little in property taxes, and a minority that will pay a lot.

  7. Bill, unfortunately, there is nothing in place to stop graft now. We have no local newspaper to combat it. Both parties are deeply into pay-to-play politics. If we were just expanding the bus system there would only be limited opportunities for graft. But the rail line idea opens up enormous opportunities to hand out contracts and politicians to get kickbacks in the form of political contributions. The rail will have very little benefit for people and will cost a fortune.

  8. The Wishard Ref…HHS involvement…the pay to play nursing homes…TIFS, DCS Call Center Owners…The agenda continues…I believe a study was presented years ago for transportation with Fed. Grants and turned down…Because it was transparent…..
    Dig Deeper on this matter and Common Core.. Indy is declining in growth folks. It’s time to address the people behind deals.

  9. Many of the doughnut counties already have to pay for the fiscal mismanagement in Marion County, both directly and by proxy.

    Geography is the largest factor that plays into the demand for public transit. We just aren’t set up for it. Everywhere I’ve ever been, be it D.C., Chicago, Tokyo, etc. the population dispersement made sense for the transit system that was in place. It doesn’t make sense here. Sure we can vote on a referendum, but again the people voting FOR it won’t pay for it, and the people voting AGAINST it will have to pay for another good or service they never use.

  10. I wonder how many DUI’s will be avoided with public transportation available? If one could take public transportation downtown to events and take one home, how many drunks will be OFF the roadways? How much is your life worth these days?

  11. I live near Chicago so I don’t have a dog in this fight, but we all know that cynicism is an enemy of progress and democracy, as is failure of vision. Areas north and south of Chicago were more isolated in the early 50s, but people in Illinois understood that tomorrow may be more difficult and demanding than today, so if you have the vision to understand that there will be twice the people and a whole lot less gas, you will appreciate the need to prepare for that day when time, money and opportunity will run short. They understood that it was about quality of life and the common good. Of course, Indiana is not exactly the home of vision, but it is the home of the Wabash-Erie Canal–built in spite of those who said that the railroads were coming–and I-69, which was built just in time to meet the traffic needs of the 1970s. We have ample evidence to show that Hoosiers like to live in the past, so they plan for it. The state has many examples to show our failure to learn from our mistakes, while believing that the future will come to us while we stand still. A legislature that doesn’t have the intelligence, foresight or courage to understand that vision takes all three will take the coward’s way out: give people the choice to reject a decent future, knowing that they will do just that.

  12. Good grief. The mass transit plan was written by Carmel Republicans. The majority of spending is for rail lines to white suburbs. It would divert enormous sums to developers, thru the establishment of enormous TIF districts. It is the single most racist plan since Unigov.

    Bill Groth – wowee, an AFL-CIO affiliated lawyer is in favor of a massive union trades boondoggle !

    Stuart Swenson – You realize that the Wabash-Erie Canal literally bankrupted the State ? That Indiana is the only state ever to go bankrupt, and it was due to the canal ?

    You all realize the Urbanophile, Aaron Renn, OPPOSES rail transit in central Indiana, because it’s so impractical ? You must think Aaron’s one of them there right wingers…

  13. Yes, and the Wabash-Erie Canal was also responsible for the deaths of hundreds of workers and, in the end, wasn’t used for long. As you may know, pieces of it can still be found in the state. A minority kept telling folks that railroads were a much better investment, and the canal was going to be a waste of money, but the idea of railroads was just too new-fangled.

  14. I note, from my perspective in Fishers, that both support and opposition to mass transit is bi-partisan, in Hamilton County at least. My own view is that it is BADLY needed in my area, as about 80% of the adults here work in Marion County, and there is a limit to how much you can expand I-69, or any other road. BUT, and I admit it is a huge one, how do you pay for it? Additional taxes? Not popular. Taking funding away from road construction? Also not popular. Then there are the “anarchist/libertarians” who think nothing but the military is the business of government, and they have greater numbers here than many other places. It will be tough to get this done.

  15. If we want poor people without cars to move off welfare and hold jobs, they will need public transportation. I’m recently retired and expect that one day, I may no longer be able to drive. I’d love to have bus service available to the local grocery-bank-pharmacy-churches, and restaurants. Hoosiers would need to get used to using public transportation, but that would come with time and good service.

    My parents lived in Noblesville and wanted me to move there, but I couldn’t bear the thought of dealing with I-69 every day to get to work in downtown Indy.

    You are right that those affected should have the right to decide the issue for themselves, but I’d think Noblesville residents who
    work in Indpls. would be among the first to support public transit
    to reduce the traffic bottleneck of I-69.

  16. Marco, please tell us exactly how, with examples, “the doughnut counties already have to pay for the fiscal mismanagement in Marion County, both directly and by proxy.”

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