WILLIAM NANGLE: Regional leadership needed for regional bus service

2012-11-04T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: Regional leadership needed for regional bus serviceBy William Nangle nwitimes.com
November 04, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Keep ‘em rollin’, rollin’ ...

That was part of the theme song for the 1960s TV show "Rawhide."

While "Rawhide" was about moving cattle, the lyrical phrase seems appropriate to the modern day debacle over transportation in Northwest Indiana.

Just about anyone you talk to believes we need a regional transportation system. We need buses. We need trains. We need to keep ‘em rollin ’.

But how to make that happen is where the rub comes in.

A weak handshake agreement between the region’s three major cities was tried with limited success. A Regional Bus Authority took a stab at regionalization. That died recently because the weak-kneed Lake County Council wouldn't fork over funds necessary for its operation.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson said last week the failure to expand and consolidate bus systems in the region proved any future system must be built around the Gary Public Transportation Corp.

Well, that drew immediate comment online that was less than favorable.

Therein lies the problem. The old barriers such as race and balkanization get in the way of establishing a regional transportation system.

Mayor Freeman-Wilson may be right. And then again she may be wrong in that what’s truly needed is a regional system governed by a board of representative from all areas of Northwest Indiana.

My hope is that the mayor – who fully understands the importance of regional cooperation – will lead the discussion in that direction.

What’s really so baffling is that the region once had such a system.

My wife, Rita, grew up in Lowell and fondly recalls as a kid taking the bus from Lowell to Gary.

Other than a few decades having passed, what is so different that we can't come together and meet an urgent need in our community.

What's needed is strong leadership that will embrace the past but forge a new, better future when it comes to moving people around the region.

Yes, we’ve got a lot of work to do to keep ‘em rollin’.

William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th St., Munster, IN 46321 or at bill.nangle@nwi.com.

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