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TARC Wins $2.5 Million Grant For New Riverport Bus Route

riverport tarc bus

Workers heading to Riverport in southwest Louisville will have another option for transportation this fall.

Mayor Greg Fischer and other officials Tuesday announced TARC as the recipient of a $2.5 million federal grant for the Riverport Circulator Project, a new bus route for the area.

Spokesman Russell Goodwin said TARC chose Riverport because of business needs and opportunities there. In an area where many workers use ride-share apps or commute to work with friends, Goodwin said the initiative could erase barriers and provide opportunities for people with few transportation options.

"Out in that area there are over 10,000 positions, about 200 employers in that area specifically," Goodwin said. "We've always been having a challenge of trying to get people to and from work."

The Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) non-infrastructure match grant is administered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The grant will cover the more than $3.1 million in operating costs to provide the service for 3 consecutive years, including fuel, salaries and construction of bus stops and shelter improvements.

Per the grant's agreement, TARC will match 20 percent of the grant -- nearly $170,000 each year.

Fischer said the program could bring new opportunities to the unemployed.

"This project removes the obstacle of transportation faced by many citizens who may be seeking a job, and it boosts businesses that need workers,” Fischer said in a statement. “Our goal here is for a project that lifts up these businesses with good employees, and opens doors for citizens to reach their full human potential.”

UPS bartered a similar transport deal with TARC, busing UPS employees from the city to work at the Worldport Air Hub. That deal guarantees UPS workers free rides on specific TARC routes, and gives students in the UPS college program free rides on regular TARC routes in Louisville.

"UPS has had an agreement with TARC since the early 2000s to operate two routes — 93 and 99 — to make it easy for employees at the Worldport sorting hub to get to work," UPS spokesperson Jim Mayer said. "We average about 4,000 rides per month ... the service has been very effective in removing barriers to working at UPS for employees who do not have personal transportation."

TARC officials expect government assistance or other funding will pay for Riverport's Circulator Project after the CMAQ grant ends.

Chris Poynter, Metro Government's communications director, said the city will review the program before making decisions about funding it.

"Let's see how successful it is," Poynter said.  "We'll have three years to figure that out."

Officials anticipate the new route will begin this fall.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.