What Time is it in Indiana?
And what time it should be.

A Brief History


I have been asked the following question:

What makes you believe that Eastern Time is the right choice?

I am almost at a loss for words ... I thought that the website was pretty clear. But to summarize or at least restate my thoughts on the matter -

History is on the side of Eastern Time
Except for 12 counties (now 10) Indiana has been on Eastern Time for the past 36 years. Most of Indiana was placed on Eastern Time in 1969 following the Indiana Governor's request to place the entire state on Central Time. No official now desiring Central Time has addressed that issue. The US DOT held hearings then and decided to place Indiana on Eastern Time. **Remember that this was BEFORE states were allowed to opt-out of Daylight Saving Time (DST). The time zone set in 1969 was officially EST/EDT, with Indiana in effect violating federal rules by not observing DST.** The loophole was not added until 1972 that allowed states to opt out one time zone or all of their state from observing DST - thus making Indiana's practice legal.

We are an Eastern Time state - yet you will hear Central Time proponents claim Indiana observed Central Time. You will hear of absurd concepts such as "double daylight saving time". And you will hear outright lies about Eastern Time. Certain central time advocates make it sound like we havn't been on Eastern Time in the winter for more than 35 years. It's easier to throw out emotional arguments about children waiting for schoolbuses than ADMIT that Indiana children have been waiting for schoolbuses on EASTERN STANDARD TIME for more than 35 years.

Many of the pro Central Time are confused and angry - the official request presented by the State of Indiana and the response by the US DOT. SB 127 was a poorly written piece of legislation --- some of the illegal aspects were removed before passage (such as the ability for individual counties to opt-in / opt-out of DST) but the exact request that the law called for isn't what the citizens of Indiana apparently wanted. The law *specifically* instructs the governor to make the *exact* request that he made to the US DOT. "Please hold hearings to determine time zone." The new Indiana law DID NOT authorize the governor to formally request a specific time zone. That flaw and the inconsistancy between the state request and federal policy led us to where we are now. Indiana legislators SHOULD have done their homework and looked into how time zones are adjusted instead of writing a law that has no effect other than change most of Indiana from "EST" to "EST/EDT" - the only effective part of the law.

Indiana residents are frustrated ... you can see that by the hundreds of comments to the US DOT. Hundreds of comments that SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE. Once again proponents of Central Time misinformed the public. This time by asking members of the public to directly contact the US DOT and ask for Central Time. That isn't the legitimate way of changing one's time zone and their efforts can only serve to illustrate just how off the mark these Central Time advocates are. They should NOT have been encouraging anyone other than county and local government leaders to contact the US DOT - it is just a waste of the US DOT's time.

Reading through those comments I see a high level of misinformation - non-petition support by non-government representatives that seem to be written to the Central Time proponent's website instead of to the US DOT. (To be fair, the citizen comments are not the only ones in error. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has also circulated a form letter for businesses to send to the US DOT at a time where the US DOT has specifically asked ONLY for the comments of appropriate government leaders.) Even official government filings contain glaring errors. Did you know that Indiana was the ONLY state divided into two time zones? We are not. We are one of 12 states divided by a time zone line. With Kentucky so close one would think county executives would remember ...

Central Time proponents get their facts wrong SO OFTEN that it is hard to take their side of the argument seriously.

Convenient for Commerce
The selection of time zones BY FEDERAL LAW is a matter for the US DOT to handle and the standard they are required to follow BY FEDERAL LAW is the 'convenience of commerce'. So let us get beyond the errors and deception of Central Time proponents and deal with that issue. What is convenient for commerce?

I live in the Elkhart-South Bend area - a virtual hotbed of the issue. The counties to the east have chosen to either willingly remain on Eastern Time or accept remaining on Eastern Time. That is EST/EDT the same as Michigan and Ohio. The western counties have decided to try to get Central Time. St Joseph, Marshall, Fulton, Starke, Pulaski, Cass, Carroll and White counties (including the cities of South Bend, Plymouth, Rochester, Knox, Winamac and Logansport) all have filed for Central Time. (Benton County also filed for Central Time but did not include supporting materials.)

The local economy ALWAYS is more important than the global economy - time is always a local issue. The eastern counties have chosen to keep their ties with Michigan and Ohio and among their own group of counties. The western counties see ties to Chicago or to other counties that are requesting a change. The South Bend-Elkhart area is split between the two sides.

In order to move ANY of those counties to Central Time an economic argument MUST be made that ties the county MORE to Chicago and Central Time Counties than to it's Eastern Time neighbors. Let's look at those eight counties ...

  • Are any of the counties in the Chicago Television Market?
    No. The only counties in the Chicago Television Market are the five NW Indiana counties already in the Central Time zone. St Joseph, Marshall, Fulton, Starke and Pulaski are in the South Bend TV market along with two Michigan Counties and three other Indiana counties. Cass, Carroll and White counties are in the Indianapolis TV market.
  • Are any of the counties in the Chicago Basic Economic Area?
    No. Once again Central Time mirrors the BEA division lines. The South Bend BEA includes the same counties as the South Bend TV market plus one more Michigan County. The Indianapolis BEA includes 44 counties in Central Indiana.
  • Do any of the counties have an airport with scheduled flights? Where do they fly?
    The only airport with scheduled airlines in the eight counties in question is South Bend Regional. 22 flights arrive daily from Eastern Time cities - 10 arrive from Central Time cities. For all the rhetoric of how the airport ties South Bend to Chicago, only 7 of those flights come from and return to Chicago.
  • How about passenger rail services?
    Cutbacks in service have severly affected Amtrak service. There is an Amtrak stop in South Bend but it is not a major impact on the area. The Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad is a commuter line currently operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District. Commuter ridership to and from South Bend is low enough that often only one car is in service for the trip (with the other car in the pair operating dark with no passengers). The St Joe County petition states there are only 300 round-trip riders per weekday on five trains. Weekend ridership is better with 600 round-trip riders on nine trains. The average 184 capacity train has 63 riders.
  • Where are our consumers and suppliers?
    Central Time proponents seem to enjoy pointing out that 61% of the US population lives to our West. But just how many of those people do we do business with? If one were to draw radius circles of where customers are and how far products travel wouldn't they look like a bullseye with the majority of the business being local?
    National businesses have no required time zone. Each business operates based on their needs and desire to perform a service. A company that shuts down customer service at 4:30pm Chicago Time should not blame the government when their customers complain about the company not being available after 2:30pm California Time. The government does not mandate the time of day a business stops answering their phones.
  • So just how local is the economy?
    Generally speaking, the counties in question are self contained. If there are ties to other counties those ties are to counties within the group or to counties remaining on Eastern Time. Strong ties to Central Time counties do not exist. For example ... St Joseph County Commuting Flows: 104,227 remain in St Joseph County; 16,408 go to counties on or remaining on Eastern Time; 1,901 go to other counties within the group; 1,766 go to existing Central Time counties. Reverse Commuting Flows: 15,517 live in counties on or remaining on Eastern Time; 4,219 live in other counties in the group; 3,936 live in existing Central Time Counties.
    If all of the counties in question moved to Central Time 16,408 St Joeseph County residents would work in a county with a different time zone and 15,517 workers would enter St Joseph County from a county with a different time zone.
    If all of the counties in question stay on Eastern Time 1,766 St Jospeh County residents would work in a county with a different time zone and 3,936 workers would enter St Joseph County from a county with a different time zone.
    Eastern Time means 26,223 LESS PEOPLE commuting between time zones!
When the US DOT asks for public input they will get it - at the appropriate time. I firmly believe the counties in Northern Indiana don't belong in Central Time. Given the choice of being tied to Chicago or Indianapolis we should be tied to Indianapolis. Depsite the desparate pleas of Central Time proponents - the entire state is NOT going to Central Time. That is not even being considered by the US DOT.

To the right I have placed two maps of how I believe Indiana should be divided. On the first map the darkest shaded counties are the ones that the Indiana legislature has asked the US DOT to leave alone in Central or Eastern Time. The next darkest colors are counties that have requested Central Time - medium green counties have filed for Central and I'd leave them on Eastern - medium red counties have filed for Central and I agree. The bright red counties have not filed for Central Time but I would support their choice. Given that counties MUST choose to move to Central Time I consider the map at the far right to be more likely (although some of the comments filed with the US DOT are by a Central Time opponent who has a different opinion about Southern Indiana counties). In any case, the majority of Indiana belongs in the Eastern Time zone.

The right choice for Indiana is Eastern Time.
Email: est@indianaeasterntime.com