The TARC board has granted a stay of execution on some of the routes slated for cancellation. The best coverage of the cuts is at the KIPDA transportation blog.
TARC's cut will not be sufficient to reach financial balance. Thus the Metro Transit Trust Fund (MTTF) will dip down to $7.5 million dollars from its healthy level of $10 million dollars. The MTTF serves as a way to keep service on the streets in an emergency, and also as buffer cash for reimbursement projects ("if you build it we will pay...someday" as oppposed to "we will pay you then you build it").
While everyone awknolwedges this is a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation, I have to give credit for them having the guts to deficit spend. There's a strong argument that government shouldn't cut jobs during a recession, and we've had plenty of state and local job cuts already, just as the feds are pouring money into creating new jobs.
This is no game and there is an element of risk for the livelyhood of 60,000 TARC riders. So far TARC has not had the roller-coaster ride of severe service cuts experienced at many other transit agencies. (c.f. today's front page New York Times article on the MTA cuts). That's a possibility that Possibility City has avoided.
CART remains committed to creating a better federal funding structure for transit in the new authorization in 2010.
[Editorial - not the official position of CART]
Buses can't get anywhere if they're always starting or stopping. TARC's #23 on Broadway has so many bus stops, that it is hopelessly slow. Stops average every tenth of a mile. Around 3rd street, there are even two stops on the same block! Buses run standing-room only in this part of town, and all the stops are used constantly.
View #23 TARC Stops in a larger map
Tarc is proposing to decrease the frequency of most routes, to make up for budget shortfalls. Here's the short list of routes that have zero proposed cuts:
Everything else is getting cut. Wow. Even the mighty #4 4th Street bus is getting the axe, for many years the pride of the system with 12 minute headways.
There will be many public meetings to discuss the changes, and these aren't set in stone.
TARC's 4th street trolley is never worth messing with. As one TARC driver dryly observed of my attempts to use it - "Don't use the Trolley, you just lazy!". She was right. Here's the math.
[Editor's note: this article was written this summer with 2009-era service levels for all routes. Now that the new route cuts have been announced, this only strengthens the argument]
The 4th Street Trolley services from the Galt House to Main Library, 0.88 miles, to be exact. It runs at 15 minute intervals, and a trip takes 7 minutes. Walking the same distance takes 18 minutes (@3mph).
What does it say about our community that we now take civic pride in our faux-trolleys? Someone at the phone book company thinks motorized, tire-based trolleys are sufficently "Louisville" that they are fit to grace the cover of a phone book. I'm surprised on two counts:
That someone would choose transit as an iconic representation of the values of our community is heartening.
And that they'd choose those rubber-tired, diesel-powered "trolleys" as the poster child validates the significant effort expended to make the trolleys look attractive. I'm guessing the disguise is not fooling the CART readership...but apperantly we're in the minority.
Here's hoping some intrepid stock photographer manages to capture the hybrid buses in such loving detail, and it makes it on the cover of the next phone book. Those buses are proud of what they are, and they're the best we've ever had.
Until we get the new batch, of course. :)
TARC's new clean diesel buses have hit the streets with a new silver-swooshy paint job. Yours truly has bicycled in their exhaust stream and while I'm not seeking out that space, they do indeed beat the fumes of your typical older TARC bus. They're the cleanest diesels engines you're likely to draft in everyday life, that's for sure.
Though the new grey-based graphic design reminds us a bit of Louisville's other major passenger bus system ...
I nearly fell off my bike today when I saw some spankin' new TARC buses. They look nothing like TARC's traditional or hybrid buses. My first impression was "neato". Any readers have info or photos?
Saturday: local citizens were repeatedly denied boarding to TARC buses operating on Bardtown Road. Chanting their rallying cry of 'BRAiiiiiiins", citizens pounded and scratched at the windows of the buses, but could not gain entry. Anger spread like a virus, passersby joined the mob, and the situation turned bloody.
Ground zero last Saturday - wheel chair lifts and kneeling shocks baffle would-be riders in the Highlands - photo from the C-J web gallery
Fallout from the incident continued on Friday, with TARC officials refusing to answer calls from this reporter. However, in a possible olive branch, CART has learned that TARC may be willing to hold a "travel training" in the Highlands. "Travel training is a free program offered by TARC to show people how to plan a trip, read schedules and maps, transfer buses and use the accessibility features of the bus." says TARC spokeswoman Alyce French-Johnson. The program is offered in cooperation with KIPDA and AARP.
A spokesperson for the aggreived citizens did not return a call for comment.
Saturday I had a 1pm meeting in Radcliff. The only problem is, I live in Louisville and don't have a car. But what I do have is Napoleon-Dynamite-grade transit and bicycling skills. Its too far for me to ride, and transit doesn't go there. But together they can reach that far.
View Epic Bikes on Board in a larger map
I got off to a bad start, with a last-minute discovery of mechanical problems with my bike. Hasty repairs ensued.