By Wade Coggeshall, Hendricks County Flyer

DANVILLE - - It's going to take more than coordination and added funding to address the public transit needs of central Indiana.

Representatives of human service agencies, as well as IndyGo and the Indiana Department of Transportation, say it will take a wholesale change in mentality.

They met Tuesday morning at the Hendricks County Government Center to update the 2007 Coordinated Public Transit Human Services Transportation Plan for the Indianapolis region. Local organizations including Sycamore Services and Hendricks County Senior Services can receive funding through grants like Job Access and Reverse Commute Program (JARC) and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

Those present say they need all the funding they can get. Beth Ann Leach, director of Hendricks County Senior Services, also runs the LINK transportation service with Sycamore Services for older and disabled citizens. Leach says they've quadrupled the service in the past six years and still have a two-week waiting list. Marcia Lynch, community relations director for Sycamore Services, says the group recently used JARC funding to buy two new vans. They have a subscription-based service for transporting residents to and from work.

"This meeting is designed to bring agencies with similar needs and goals together to more efficiently use funding," said Laura Brown, an associate with the transportation management firm RLS who coordinated the meeting. Input collected from the gathering will be put into a draft and prioritized as agencies prepare to apply for these federal grants next year.

The consensus is that it's going to take more than human service organizations to meet the demands of public transit. One Avon resident asked Roscoe Brown Jr., director of coordinated transportation programs for IndyGo, about expanding the bus service into Hendricks County. Plans are under way to start an express bus line from the county, possibly in Avon, to downtown Indianapolis next year.

"We've been looking to expand to surrounding counties using these funds to add to that connectivity," Roscoe Brown said.

Officials here think there's enough demand to warrant having the service. John McCloud, transportation director for the Brownsburg Community School Corp., noted industrial activity is booming in his town as much as Plainfield, particularly with the impending development of the Ronald Reagan Parkway. So much so that employers there can't find enough workers.

"I always see the help-wanted signs but potential employees can't always commute there," McCloud said, adding an estimated 60 percent of the Brownsburg Community School Corp. staff live outside town. "The economy got to the point where everybody thought everyone else had their transportation needs covered. That's simply not the case." McCloud often gets calls from parents whose children missed the school bus, but have no other way of getting them to school.

Gary Lenard, human resources director for Hendricks Regional Health, says he thinks a major employer such as his would make use of public transportation.

"If the service was reliable, we have a lot of employees that I think would utilize it," he said.

Roscoe Brown says demand for such utility is the key. Elected officials are only going to push for expanded public transit if citizens ask for it. While he laments that the 13th largest U.S. city has the 99th biggest bus system, he also knows where there's a will there's a way.

"I remember the city trying to impress by building all sorts of stuff when it hosted the Pan Am Games in 1987," Roscoe Brown said, adding he expects the same when Indianapolis hosts the Super Bowl in 2012.

Apathy over public transit isn't relegated to Marion County. INDOT requests counties contribute 10 percent local matching funds for public transit. Yet Hendricks County only subsidizes 2.7 percent. That's less than the 4.4 percent Morgan County commits.

Besides IndyGo and LINK, residents also can connect with fellow carpoolers through Central Indiana Commuter Services, which operates a database of area commuters interested in ridesharing. For more information, call 327-7433 or visit the website at

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