Trolley service in downtown Louisville will once again be free, at least for about three months–trolley rides will be subsidized through business sponsorships for the summer.
TARC has partnered with downtown business and development organizations to drop the 50 cent fare from trolleys from June 7th through the end of August.
Executive director Barry Barker says he hopes the trolley service will encourage downtown visitors to spend more time in the area, thereby improving business for establishments near the trolley routes.
“What I’ve always thought was connecting say the Galt House with Slugger Field, Slugger Field to the Galt House to the Slugger Museum, the Science Center, the Arms Museum,” he says. “We want to get them in both directions. We want to shrink that mile between the waterfront and between Fourth and Broadway and get that down where people can hop on the trolley and it shrinks to virtually nothing.”
The trolleys will also run more frequently, making pickups at each stop every seven minutes. Barker says if the plan is successful, TARC will work to secure more sponsorships to keep the trolleys free beyond the summer.
“We’d be glad to have those conversations,” says Barker. “What we’ve got to do is figure out new and better ways to fund public transportation and provide this community with the kind of public transportation it needs.”
Barker says he would also like to find new ways to finance regular bus service, as TARC as been plagued by budget cuts in recent years. The trolleys were originally intended to be a free service, but fares were imposed in 2004. As TARC’s budget waned this year, the trolleys were in danger of being cut entirely.