Mass hysteria

October 24, 2008

Are these Indianapolis supporters of mass transit living a pipe dream and trying to drum up support for something that will never happen?

 A new poll has found nearly three-quarters of people surveyed would support using taxpayer money for mass transportation, a critical question for proponents of a light-rail line for which funding has yet to be found.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors, shows 71 percent of the 1,434 people who responded would support dedicated public funding for mass transit.

People say they’d support public transit when it’s in an opinion poll and doesn’t really count. But would they vote for it in a referendum? And if the public transit came about, would they actually use it? In a congested urban area like Indy, where traffic is a lot worse than it is in Fort Wayne, maybe. And we’ve seen even here how high gasoline prices have increased bus ridership.

I like the idea of public transportation — that it’s there when and if I need it. But it will always be my fallback option. Being able to go excatly where I want to when I want to is too attractive an option, and the vast majority of people feel that way, too. It’s like trying to convince a bunch of cell-phone addicts of the virtues of relying on a public phone.

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