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Local News Politics

TARC Approves Fare Increases, Service Reductions Under Review

The board of directors for the Transit Authority of River City approved across-the-board fare increases that will take effect July 1 to help offset a projected $4.6 million budget shortfall.

Base fare for a one-way trip will increase from $1.50 to $1.75 and a monthly pass will cost $50 compared to the current $42 rate. The cost for individuals with disabilities who use TARC3 services will also go up from $2.50 to $3.00.

TARC Executive Director Barry Barker says riders are rightfully concerned, but those upset with the increase need to pressure elected leaders in Metro and state government as well as lawmakers in Washington.

“Essentially what I’ve told people is make noise. If this is hurting tell us about it, and tell your elected officials about it. Let us know what you need,” he says.

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TARC Schedules Public Meetings on Route Changes, Fare Increase

The Transit Authority of River City will hold a series of public meetings this week on proposed route changes and fare increases.

TARC’s revenue relies on the city occupational tax. As that’s declined, fuel, healthcare and pension costs have gone up, leaving TARC with a $4.6 million shortfall. To close the gap, the authority has proposed a 25-cent fare increase, the elimination of nine express bus routes and changes to several other routes.

TARC will hold six meetings, beginning Tuesday to gather public input on the proposed cuts. The authority is also taking comments that are e-mailed, called or reported in person until the close of business on Friday. 

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Local News

TARC Proposes Fare Increases, Service Cuts to Balance Budget

The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is proposing a hike in bus fares, the elimination of nine express routes and other service changes to offset a projected $4.6 million budget shortfall next fiscal year.

Officials will seek public input on the proposed changes at six pubic meetings to be held May 15-17.

“With fuel costs, health care costs and pension costs, the sad fact is that our expenses are going up faster than our revenues, so we’ve got to do something to balance that,” said TARC Executive Director Barry Barker.

Under the proposal, one-way adult fare would increase from $1.50 to $1.75 and a monthly pass would increase from $42 to $50, among other hikes. Barker says the proposed rates are in line with public transportation fares charged in similar sized cities like Indianapolis and Cincinnati, where one-way adult fare is already $1.75.

This would be TARC’s first fare increase since 2008.

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TARC to Unveil New Website This Week

The Transit Authority of River City will unveil a redesigned website later this week with a look that officials say will enhance visibility and improve scheduling pages.

The new website will also include a scrolling news section, links to social media sites and better overall visibility for users who want to access it at home work or on their mobile devices.

“It’s been several years since we’ve redesigned our website, and it’s time to give it a newer and better look,” TARC Executive Director Barry Barker said in a news release. “The new website doesn’t just look better, it functions better with some new features the public will really enjoy.”

TARC officials say all of the features the public has come to depend on that were hosted on the old site will remain, including online trip planning software by Google Maps, forms to make a complaint about service or general comments, the ability to purchase tickets and passes online and information about TARC3 Paratransit Service.

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TARC Negotiating New Contract for Disabled Rider Service

The Transit Authority of River City will soon enter talks for a new contract for the agency’s TARC3 service.

TARC3 is for people who can’t ride standard buses. The vehicles visit riders’ homes and the schedules and routes are adjusted to create the most convenient service possible. But even though it’s convenient, the service isn’t the most efficient for TARC to provide.

“We have two-hundred-and-twenty-some-odd buses and then about 15 trolleys that are on the road. To provide these services, we often do contract them out. It’s very expensive to provide TARC3 service,” says spokesman Jon Reiter.

The previous TARC3 contract with MV Transportation expires this year. After reviewing other bids, the TARC board has authorized Director Barry Barker to begin talks with First Transit for a five-year TARC3 contract valued at around $55 million. That contract would begin in October. Reiter says there’s enough time built in that service shouldn’t be interrupted.

“We don’t think so, but there’s certainly going to be a transition process that’s going to have to be undergone,” he says. “I would think any disruption would be minimal. We’re trying to look out for these folks.”

Barker will also negotiate with Yellow Cab, which currently handles about 15 percent of TARC3 service.

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TARC Uses Federal Funds to Continue Service on Popular Routes

The Transit Authority of River City has received another $1 million federal grant to continue more frequent bus service on popular routes.

Mayor Greg Fischer says the county has seen a 20 percent ridership increase on routes 18 and 23, which cover Dixie and Preston highways and Broadway and Bardstown Road. Both routes carry nearly 30 percent of TARC commuters and have been running every 15 minutes for months.

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Louisville Region Partners Public Transportation with Google

The Louisville Metro region has joined the ranks of hundreds of other metropolitan areas that have partnered public transportation with Google.

Passengers can now click a public transit option on Google Maps to find the closest scheduled Transit Authority of River City (TARC) route to their destination. Users will be given three departure times for this route.

“We want to be on the leading edge, but not the bleeding edge. I think we’ve been working with this for six months, eight months. And so you can see we’re joining about 500 other cities,” said Barry Barker, TARC’s executive director.

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TARC to Provide St. James Patrons With Shuttle Service

The Transit Authority of River City is again offering public transportation for patrons of the St. James Court Art Show.

For the past several years, buses have run residents from downtown to the Old Louisville neighborhood, which hosts the annual art show. The juried fine arts and crafts show has been going on since 1957, gathering over 200,000 visitors each year.

TARC spokesman Jon Reither says the festival is a beloved city institution and the busing service is glad to provide visitors with an alternative mode of transportation.

“It’s really good if you’re going to use this service for more than one person. If you want to take your family down there after church it’s perfect for that sort of thing,” he says.

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The Wednesday Morning Commute: 7am Update

Wednesday begins with one bright spot: officials say the traffic on Monday and Tuesday has been moving more smoothly than expected. Small comfort if you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or if you’re getting up much earlier to start your commute – but worth noting.

A few notes: Wednesday morning traffic is reverting back to normal Third Street routes coming off westbound I-64 in downtown Louisville.

TARC is adding several buses to the routes that cross the river. Here’s the route information. TARC also offers Park and Ride locations in southern Indiana for travel across the Kennedy and Clark Memorial Bridges.

The “Spirit of Jefferson” boat is shuttling residents across the Ohio River beginning this morning. The shuttle will cost $1 dollar each way and will initially operate on weekdays for the next two weeks.

The Spirit runs from Riverfront Park in Jeffersonville to the 4th Street Wharf in Louisville. There are 265 free parking spaces under the Kennedy Bridge, where residents can park to board the shuttle. The 300 person ferry will run 6:00 and 9:00 in the morning, and between 3:00 and 5:15 in the evening. Here’s the timetable.

And Indiana Department of Transportation workers have begun expanding several interstate ramps in southern Indiana from one to two lanes to help ease congestion.

Paving and striping crews have expanded the I-265 westbound ramp to I-64 westbound, and the I-64 eastbound ramp to I-265 eastbound. Today, they’ll expand the I-265 eastbound ramp to I-65 southbound. All the work is taking place between morning and evening rush hours.

This program note: today at 1pm, we’ll devote the entire hour to the latest on the Sherman Minton Bridge, the traffic problems caused by its closure, and what officials are doing about it. And we want you to call with your comments and questions.

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Local News

TARC Adding More Buses to Deal With Congestion Caused by Bridge Closure

With the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge and the re-routing of more than 80,000 cars every weekday, officials are urging commuters to use public transportation. Since Monday morning, TARC has added buses to several cross-river routes.

Barry Barker is the Executive Director of TARC.

“What we’re doing is making sure that our buses leave where they pick people up at the same time everybody has come to expect,” he said. “We can’t guarantee them that we’re going to get them there at the same time, but at least if you’ve been catching a 6:15am bus, that bus will be there at 6:15.”

Barker says he’s noticed an increase in riders this week as people traveling between Indiana and Kentucky consider alternatives to ease their commute.

“We’re trying to get the message across to folks, take the bus and take a break,” he said. “Get on the bus, you can sightsee, you can read, you can learn how to knit, essentially whatever people want to do, and just leave the hassle of driving to us.”

TARC also offers Park and Ride locations in southern Indiana for travel across the Kennedy and Clark Memorial Bridges.