Earlier today the Transit Authority of River City’s board of directors approved a plan that will make some of the service cuts proposed in February while putting other reductions on hold pending further review.
Facing a projected $5.5 million revenue shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the public transit provider had proposed eliminating 20 routes and reducing service on 17 other bus lines to close that deficit. However, after getting an earful from riders about potential service cuts, TARC officials said they would modify those initial recommendations to the board.
TARC executive director Barry Barker told the board today that it can move ahead with eliminating four routes and while reducing service to 16 others. Those changes are expected to save the company about $2.5 million annually and will take effect on June 6.
However, the elimination of 12 of 16 express routes that was proposed last month is being postponed while TARC officials explore the financial feasibility of making up part of the shortfall by adding an additional $1 fare on all express routes and reducing rather than eliminating service on some of them.
With few immediate short-term solutions for TARC’s beleaguered budget and with frustrated passengers fearing the worst about thinning services, a chorus of community activists, elected officials and mayoral candidates have chimed in with ideas on fixing the busing system. Many have said it means renewing a long-term vision and commitment to public transportation services.
Among the many groups of riders troubled by the proposed cuts are residents in the Portland neighborhood, who drafted a letter to Barker with a proposal that suggested combining routes to preserve bus service in the area.
Barker took heed to those suggestions and recommended combining the the 12th and 22nd Street lines, which connect the west Louisville community to southern Indiana and other main routes. Both had been proposed for elimination despite being considered public transit lifelines in the community.
“Folks have spent a lot energy and time telling us how we can save some of these services,” Barker said in a statement. “We are going to do everything we can to keep these routes, and preserve as many jobs as we possibly can.”
The city’s busing company will also hold off on changes to the Fourth Street Trolley while funding options are considered.
The final decision on the remaining service changes will be made at the next board meeting on April 26. Public hearings will be scheduled in April on the proposed fare increase for express routes.