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TARC's Proposed Route Cuts Draw Few Public Comments

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Public meetings held Tuesday and Wednesday to gain input on proposed cuts to three popular TARC routes drew little feedback from the public.

About 35 people stopped by the two-hour meetings at Shawnee Library on West Broadway and the main library on Fourth Street.

There's one more opportunity to express comments on the proposed change. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. today the Southwest Government Center, 7219 Dixie Highway.

Many came to get more information about why the proposed cuts in service for bus lines operating on Fourth Street, Broadway and Preston and Dixie highways are necessary, said Jon Reiter, a spokesman for TARC. Others came to air general grievances, and some heaped praise on the transit authority.

TARC officials last month announced the proposed cuts that stem from a recent loss of federal grant funds. for the past few years, the money allowed the transit authority to offer more frequent bus service on the routes.

“These are pure, straightforward funding decisions—we’ve got to pay the bills, we don’t have the money to put the service out there we want,” said Barry Barker, director of TARC.

The service cuts will lead to fewer daily stops for buses on the 4, 18 and 23 lines—which account for about 48 percent of TARC's daily usage, Barker said. The reduction will allow the transit authority to save about $1.2 million.

"People are concerned about the decrease in frequency, but they also want to talk about the service overall," Reiter said. "A lot of these folks don't just ride on these routes where the cuts have been proposed—they ride all over town."

Jimmie Reed stopped by the meeting on Tuesday to get more information about the specific changes to the Broadway line. She frequently rides the 23 bus, which serves the Broadway corridor, to get from her home near 45th Street to work at Phoenix Hill Tavern.

Reed, 51, said the later arriving buses—expected to be delayed from three minutes to 15 minute at stops beyond the urban core—are changes people will likely be able to adjust to.

"It isn't as bad as people are portraying it," she said. "It isn't that bad."

A late bus, she said, is nothing new for her.

"On Saturday night that bus is always late, I haven't figured it out yet," she said.

Mike Miles, 39, said the delayed buses could have serious impacts on workers trying to get to shift  jobs on time.

"But I'm pretty sure we can get around this," he said. "Where there's a will there's a way. This is nothing."

Other residents, however, weren't so nonchalant about the proposed changes.

Barbara Beckett said TARC officials should try everything they can before they cut service to the busiest routes in the city.

“There has to be somewhere else to generate what you need besides hurting the ones that already are hurt the most," she said.

Debra Smith-Seadler said the changes won't affect her too much; she lives on Broadway and usually doesn't go beyond the stretches of the 23 bus. But for people living on the city's periphery, where delays could be as long as 15 minutes, the impacts will likely be greater, she said.

"Hopefully, those people will speak up and complain if it's going to be hard on them, hopefully if enough people complain it won't affect them too bad," she said.

Reiter said he would have liked to see a packed room for the meeting. He said the 11 a.m. start time for the meeting is not ideal for everyone.

"We've actually had a few people tell us that's intentional, and it's not," he added.

There are several factors that go in to when and where to have a public meeting, Reiter said.

"We have to go where we can get space, we have to go where we can get space for free, we also have to go where there is a bus line," he said.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.