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Transit Authority of River City

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Transit Authority of River City
New TARC logo.png
Tarc 2013 Gillig Brt.jpg
TARC 2013 Gillig BRT
Headquarters1000 W. Broadway Louisville KY, 40203
LocaleLouisville, Kentucky, United States
Service areaLouisville Metro, Oldham, and Bullitt Cos, and Southern Indiana
Service typeBus service
Routes48 (includes 1 BRT line)
Fuel typeULSD and Electricity
Chief executiveCarrie Butler as of 09/21/2020

The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is the major public transportation provider for the Louisville, Kentucky, United States metro area, which includes parts of Southern Indiana. This includes the Kentucky suburbs of Oldham County and Bullitt County, and the suburbs of Clark County, and Floyd County in Southern Indiana. TARC is publicly funded and absorbed various earlier private mass transit companies in Louisville, the largest of which was the Louisville Transit Company.

TARC operates a fleet of 277 accessible buses, including numerous hybrids. Starting in 2004, TARC purchased hybrids, and by 2008 started purchasing clean diesel buses for a cleaner, greener fleet. By late Winter 2013, TARC added 16 more clean diesels. Then, by mid-Summer 2013, 11 hybrids were added, bringing TARC's hybrid total to 32. By Fall 2013, TARC added 21 clean diesel commuter buses, then as of Fall 2014 TARC added 12 more clean diesels; some of them are WiFi-enabled and have comfortable seating. TARC has recently put 12 additional updated buses on the road with 13 more due to arrive by late 2016. This brings their clean diesel total to 82 when the other 13 arrive. There will be 96. All-electric buses have been circulating downtown Louisville since early 2015, and eight more will be hitting the road on one local route serving the Iroquois neighborhood, and Iroquois Park. These buses will not be fare-free, will have a 42-passenger capacity, and will share the 8th Street charging station with one of the trolley routes. according to The Courier-Journal. There are also two charging stations in downtown Louisville, one at 3rd and York, the other at 8th and Market. These buses will have a 30-passenger seating capacity, and be able to operate for up to two hours on a single charge. These buses, like the old trolleys, will be fare-free. On November 5, 2019. TARC will celebrate 45 years of service. Since 2016 TARC has added 45 more clean diesels, and one hybrid. As of January 6, 2020 Tarc launched the region, and state of Kentucky's first bus rapid transit line.[1] The line runs from downtown Louisville, to Valley Station. The fares are the same as a local bus. TARC provides service 365 days a year. It also operates many specialized routes providing transportation to major local employers, educational institutions and recreational events. It began bus operations in 1974. TARC has explored other forms of public transit, including light rail, but as of 2009 provides only bus service.


The Transit Authority of River City was created in 1971 after 1970 legislation authorized city, and county governments to operate mass-transit systems using local funding. At the time, public transit was still being provided in Louisville by the private Louisville Transit Company. The Louisville Transit Company had long operated mass transit lines in Louisville, converted from electric trolleys to diesel buses in the late 1940s, and changing its name from the Louisville Railway Company in 1947.[2]

Ridership by year.
Includes TARC's predecessor, Louisville Transit Company, in years prior to 1974.

1920 – 84 million
1970 – 14 million
1980 – 20 million
1997 – 15 million
2006 – 15.8 million 2017–14.3 million

Following a trend seen in cities across America, the company had seen annual ridership decline from 84 million in 1920 to 14 million in 1970. The ridership was no longer enough for to cover operating expenses and in 1971 it posted its first-ever loss. In 1972 the company announced it would cease operations on September 1, 1974.[2]

The local government began subsidizing fares in July 1973, but this was not enough to make Louisville Transit Company profitable. At about the same time, Bridge Transit Co., which provided mass transit between Louisville and Jeffersonville, ceased operations due to lack of revenue, clearly setting the stage for a metropolitan area without any private mass transit companies.[2]

In 1974, voters approved a controversial referendum allowing for an increased occupational tax to fund mass transit, which was pushed for by then-mayor Harvey Sloane.[3] Combined with a federal grant, this was enough for TARC to purchase the Louisville Transit Company, buy new buses, reduce fares, and extend new service lines.[2] TARC bought up the remaining mass transit companies in the area; Blue Motor Coach Lines, which served outlying areas, in 1976 and the Daisy Line, connecting New Albany and Louisville, in 1983.[2]

In 1993, TARC experimented with a "water taxi" service connecting the Belle of Louisville wharf and Towboat Annie's Restaurant in Jeffersonville.[4] During the 1990s and early 2000s, TARC advocated extensive funding to build and operate light rail system in the Louisville area, but despite wide press coverage, the plans never went past planning stages.

In February 1994, an audit committee headed by future political candidate Bruce Lunsford revealed TARC had been mismanaging funds and was on pace to deplete its once-large trust fund due to skyrocketing expenses such as door-to-door services for the disabled as well as rates of spending on personal services and fringe benefits for administrators that was much higher than in transit companies for similar sized cities.[5] In the fallout of the audit, TARC's executive director resigned and fares were nearly doubled before year's end.[6]

In August 2011, TARC's new $4.5 million, 17,700 square-foot, Maintenance and Training building received Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification.[7]


TARC 2010 Gillig Diesel Hybrid - Electric Advantage
TARC 2010 Gillig Diesel Hybrid - Electric Advantage

TARC purchased Louisville's Union Station for $2 million in 1977, the year after the former train station had ceased rail operations. The trainyard was replaced with a large maintenance facility for TARC buses and the former train station is now TARC's administrative headquarters.[2] In 2003, TARC did a major remodeling of Union Station for the first time since it purchased the facility. The renovation cost $2.1 million.[8]

TARC is administered by an eight-member board. TARC had a budget of $67.8 million for the 2008–09 fiscal year. Fares only cover about 12% of TARC's operating expenses; the rest is paid for by Jefferson County's occupational tax, federal aid and some other minor sources. [9] The occupational tax is 0.002 it makes up about two-thirds of TARC's operating expenses in any given year. The actual total varies due to availability of federal grants and fares collected.[10] In 2002, TARC had 710 employees, 460 of whom were bus drivers.[11]

Some funding comes from a transportation trust fund kept by TARC. In 1992, the fund contained $28 million, which a local alderman claimed made TARC the "Cadillac" of America's bus systems, and unsuccessfully proposed raiding it to fund the Louisville Free Public Library.[12] The fund declined from $34 million in 1989 to $13 million in 1994, prompting severe cutbacks and rate hikes that year.[13]


As of 2020, TARC has a fleet of 277 buses. 32 are hybrid buses, which combine a traditional diesel engine and an electric motor to reduce emissions and eliminate tailpipe exhaust during acceleration, but cost nearly twice as much as a conventional bus. The hybrids were provided through Federal highway bill earmarks by U.S. Senator Jim Bunning. In 2007, a new TARC bus cost $285,000, while a hybrid bus cost $504,000. Now a New clean diesel costs $405,000 dollars a bus while a hybrid costs $600,000 dollars a bus. Tarc Also operates a fleet of 17 electric buses which cost a lot more than the hybrids. These buses burn cleaner than a diesel bus, and have zero emissions. Which means 11,000lbs less diesel exhaust smoke has been emitted into the air.

In October 2010, TARC announced that the hybrid bus fleet would grow to 21, with the addition of 9 new buses, with a grant of $3.9 million, from the Federal Transit Authority's Clean Fuels Bus and Bus Facilities Program. A previous grant through the federal stimulus program paid for nine hybrid buses that arrived in July 2010.[14]

All buses are equipped with "kneeling" bus technology that makes them easier to board, and a wheelchair lift. TARC once required disabled riders to use a special service with smaller buses that had to be scheduled in advance, but all regular buses were made accessible following protests in 1986.[15]

Current bus fleet

Year Manufacturer Model Fleet Numbers Engine & Transmission Fuel Type Notes Image
1998 Gillig phantom Advantage Low Floor 901-999 Diesel Retired

922/971 scrapped/sold due to fire damage

2000 Gillig phantom Advantage Low Floor 29 and 40 foot 2001-2057
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
Diesel In light use some retired

Some 29-foot units stored out of service

2001 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40 foot 2101-2111
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
Diesel 2105 scrapped/sold due to fire damage
2002 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 29 foot 2250-2266
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
2250 on the 12
2003 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40" 2301-2320
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
Diesel 2315-2318-2319 retired

2302 on route 27

2004 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 2401-2405
  • Cummins ISB
  • Allison Hybrid EV40|
2005 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40 foot 2501-2516
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
2007 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40 foot hybrid 2701-2704
  • Cummins ISB
  • Allison Hybrid Drive EV40
2007 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 35" 2721-2726 former COTA buses
  • Cummins ISB
  • Allison B400R-5 speed Automatic
2008 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 2801-2806
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
2009 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40 foot hybrid 2901-2903
  • Cummins ISB
  • Allison Hybrid Electric Drive EV40
2009 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40" 2910-2926
  • Cummins ISL
  • Allison B400R-5 speed Automatic
Gillig 2923
2009 Gillig advantage Low Floor 30" 2930-2932
  • Cummins ISL9
  • Allison B400R-5 Speed Automatic
Diesel formerly 2931-2933 for Central Ohio Transit Authority
2010 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 1001-1009
  • Allison Hybrid Electric Drive EV40
Gillig 1009
2013 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 1301-1316
  • Cummins ISB
  • Allison B400R-6 Speed Automatic
Gillig 1309
2013 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 1320-1330
  • Cummins ISL9
  • Allison Hybrid Electric Drive EV40
Gillig 1328
2013 Gillig BRT 1350-1370
  • Cummins ISL9
  • Allison B400R-6 Speed Automatic
Diesel 1370 was repainted, and fitted with ITS technology for Rapid TARC line. Known affectionately as "The Rapid"
Gillig Brt 1351
2014 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 1401-1412
  • Cummins ISL9
  • Allison B400R-6 Speed Automatic
1412 on the 23
2016, 2017 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 40' 1601-1625
  • Allison B-400R 6 speed automatic transmission
Diesel 1601-1612 Arrived summer 2016

1613-1625 arrived February 2017

2015? Proterra *Allison Electric Drive EV40 Electric buses 01-017 Proterra BE-30 and Catalist arriving between winter 2015 and summer 2016
2018 Gillig advantage 35" low floor 1701,1702 *Allison BX-3400 6 speed Automatic Diesel
2019 Gillig advantage 40" low floor 1901-1910
  • Allison BX~3400 6 speed Transmission
This is bus 1906
2019 Gillig BRT 40" Low Floor 1921-1928 *Allison BX-3400 6 Speed Automatic Transmission Diesel 1701,1702,1901-1910,1921-1928 arrived between fall 2018-spring 2019

1921-1928 debuted January 6, 2020 on the new Rapid TARC line. Which serves downtown Louisville, and Valley Station. It has 37 brand new distinct, highly visible bus stations, 8 new buses and one 2013 Gillig BRT see 2013 Gillig BRT list

2021 Gillig Advantage Low Floor 21xx 21 buses to be delivered Fiscal Year 2021 Diesel


The Toonerville II Trolleys provide transportation in downtown Louisville
The Toonerville II Trolleys provide transportation in downtown Louisville

TARC operates a series of city buses that serve throughout the Louisville area. TARC claims over 7,000+ bus stops, although only about 200 of them have benches and rain shelters—the rest simply have a sign indicating the location is a bus stop.[16] The stops are served by 33 weekday and weekend routes, 14 express routes with weekday service only, totalling 47 routes. The daily routes are named for the primary road they serve. On the daily routes, there is no more than hour between scheduled buses at any stop, and on weekdays on the busiest routes have even less time between stops. Most of the daily routes have existed under the same name and number for decades, although their routes have almost all been extended to provide access to suburban locations.[17]

TARC operates various circulators providing access to hospitals, Downtown Louisville and art galleries. Since 1999, TARC has operated a shuttle service for the University of Louisville's main campus. It operates two routes shuttling workers to Worldport, the hub of United Parcel Service and one of Louisville's largest employers.[18] In 2007, TARC launched a program called "Ride to Safety" which allows domestic abuse victims to board TARC buses to be given transportation to a shelter.[19]

They also operate a system of diesel-powered rubber-tired buses designed in the style of early 20th century streetcars that act as circulators in the downtown hotel and shopping districts and on certain days are used to provide special shuttle services in other shopping and entertainment areas. The tourist trolleys began operation in November 1987 and their role and fare has varied over the years as funding has allowed.[20] By the end of 2014, 10 new all-electric buses will be in operation. The first of 10 has arrived already, and is slated to begin testing soon.

TARC and its predecessor provided shuttle access to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks since the 1950s, but in 2008 new federal rules required the racetrack, Churchill Downs, to negotiate with private companies to provide service. The shuttle operation transported tens of thousands of people each year and provided TARC with over $200,000 of annual revenue.[21] TARC provides service to some other local events, including Thunder over Louisville and the Kentucky State Fair.[22]

Through a program called "Bikes on Board", TARC has bike racks installed on the front of all its full-size buses, each with the capacity to hold two bicycles. The program began in 2001, and by 2004 all buses were equipped. In 2005, TARC reported an average of 6,000 riders a month used the bike racks.[23]

Old Fares

The standard fare became $1 in 1994, up from $0.85 for peak hours and $0.50 for off-peak hours. On July 1, 2007, it was raised to $1.25. In June 2008 the adult fare was raised to $1.50 to help defray the increased cost of fuel. Since July 1, 2012, the adult fare has been $1.75.[24] Starting in 2018, fareboxes will be updated. The amount for a one-way adult fare will be unchanged. Smartcards will be accepted for payment, with the fare discounted to $1.50, while those without smartcards will have to provide exact change.[25] Discounts are offered to senior citizens and high school students.[24] A "day tripper" one-day pass can be purchased for $3.50 while boarding the bus[24] (TARC3 is currently not participating but will be phased in at a later time).[25] Express fares are $2.75, or $1 with a bus pass currently.[24] Children under 6 with a fare-paying rider pay no fare, limited to 3.

New Fares

NOTE: since late April 2020, all fares are free because of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and riders must wear masks besides boarding from rear door. Once the operator shields are added, fare collection will resume.

Update Fare collection has since resumed, and all driver shields are up. All express routes with the exception of Routes 17X Fern Creek Express, 31X Middletown Express, and 40X Jeffersontown express have been discontinued. Express Pass, and Express fare have also been discontinued per August 2020.

As of January 7, 2019 TARC has started their Automated fare collection system, and added new magnetic fare cards. TARC also launched a new app as well.[26] The fares are as follows $1.75 full cash fare one way. With the new MYTARC fare cards $1.50. MYTARC 24 hr Card. $3.50 local, $15 for the 168-hour local. for $50 for 30 day local, The new smart card youth summer pass became available late May 2019. For seniors, and persons with disabilities. The Fare is still 80 cents full cash fare or with smart card. 10 trip cards are available for $8. Note:Express fares for seniors, and persons with disabilities [27] Mobile ticketing will be available 01/13/2020. Pricing will be as follows. With smartcard, and reduced smartcard its $0.80, and $1.50 for local, and rapid, and With the TARC Mobile app launched in the spring of 2019. All fares, reduced or not, will be $1.50, as does express fare. This is per TARC Mgmt, and customer service.[28]

Bus Rapid Transit

One of 9 bus rapid transit buses on new Rapid TARC Line
One of 9 bus rapid transit buses on new Rapid TARC Line

TARC debuted the region, and state of Kentucky's first Bus Rapid Transit line on January 6th, 2020. It has 37 brand new distinctly branded stops, and 9 new distinctly branded silver, and blue buses. Service will be 15–30 minutes 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. 20 minute service will be from 4:00am–5:30am, and 7:00pm–1:00am, with 15 minute service from 5:30am–7:00pm. Monday-Friday. Saturday, and Sunday will be 30 minute service from 4:30-7:00am, and 20 minute service from 7:00am–7:00pm 30 minute service from 7:00pm–12:00am Midnight. This route will begin at 2nd and Market, and end at Dixie Gardens. These buses will be chocked full of modern technology, including the ability to control the traffic signals at select cue jump lanes. As well as fuel saving technology, and it will save time on your bus ride. This new route was created as part of the nearly 3 year $35 million New Dixie Highway [29] project. That added medians, and realigned a short portion at the corner of Dixie, and Broadway, and when final paving is done this spring it will make Dixie Highway safer to travel.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "New Dixie Highway Bus Rapid Transit Line".
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kleber, John E., ed. (2002). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. p. 892.
  3. ^ Ryan, Ed (November 6, 1974). "Transit referendum". The Courier-Journal.
  4. ^ Staff writer (May 6, 1993). "Maiden voyages of TARC water taxi draw 4,500". pp. 3B.
  5. ^ Walfoort, Nina (February 5, 1994). "TARC audit assails budget, management". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1A.
  6. ^ Walfoort, Nina (February 11, 1994). "Arnett resigns: TARC's financial priorities redirected". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1B.
  7. ^ TARC's Maintenance and Training Annex receives Gold Certification Archived April 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (September 6, 2003). "Time-worn Union Station gets a face-lift". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1B.
  9. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (June 3, 2008). "Rising fuel bill may push TARC fares up 25 cents". The Courier-Journal.
  10. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (August 4, 2008). "TARC jumps on fuel deal". The Courier-Journal. p. 1B.
  11. ^ Green, Marcus (November 14, 2002). "TARC will get award for workplace fitness". pp. 1F.
  12. ^ O'Doherty, Mary (June 23, 1992). "Bather would raid TARC to aid library". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1A.
  13. ^ Walfoort, Nina. "TARC begins push for another round of fare increases". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1B.
  14. ^ "Hybrid Bus fleet grows to 29". October 28, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  15. ^ Jessie, Lisa (July 23, 1988). "7 disabled people held after protest of bus line". The Courier-Journal. pp. 7A.
  16. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (January 1, 2006). "TARC seeks state funds to build shelters". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1B.
  17. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (August 21, 2008). "Gas prices get people on board with TARC". The Courier-Journal. p. 1A.
  18. ^ "TARC - Route listing". Transit Authority of River City. Archived from the original on June 12, 2008. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
  19. ^ Gerth, Joseph (December 27, 2006). "Buses will help take abuse victims to safety". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1B.
  20. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (August 9, 1988). "Free trolley rides expected through '88". The Courier-Journal. pp. 2B.
  21. ^ Shafer, Sheldon (March 27, 2008). "Rule change gives others shot at Derby bus runs". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1A.
  22. ^ Halladay, Jessie (April 9, 2008). "Surviving Thunder's roads". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1B.
  23. ^ Bruggers, James (January 18, 2005). "More bikers hitching a ride on TARC". The Courier-Journal. pp. 1A.
  24. ^ a b c d "Fares and Online Purchasing". TARC. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  25. ^ a b "New Fare Collection System". TARC. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  26. ^ "45 years of service".
  27. ^ "New Fares".
  28. ^ "New Bus routes and mobile ticketing". Ridetsrc. December 20, 2019.
  29. ^ "The New Dixie Highway". The New Dixie Highway. December 13, 2017.
  30. ^ Kobin, Billy (January 3, 2020). "Bus Rapid Transit". Courier Journal. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

[1][2] External links


  1. ^ Ladd, Sarah (November 20, 2019). "TARC receives 17.3 MM to replace older buses". Courier Journal. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  2. ^ Kobin, Billy (December 13, 2019). "What does transit look like in 2020". Courier Journal. [12/13/2019 Archived] Check |archive-url= value (help) from the original on December 13, 2019. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
This page was last edited on 22 February 2021, at 11:51
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