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Top TARC official to resign at the end of 2023

Stone building with red TARC sign
Jacob Munoz
LPM News
Carrie Butler, TARC's executive director, will resign at the end of 2023 after three years leading Louisville's public transit agency.

Carrie Butler, executive director of TARC, will resign on Dec. 31, the agency said Tuesday. During her time at the helm, TARC set long-term goals and dealt with some controversy.

Butler will stay on as a consultant for the agency in the first half of 2024, according to a TARC press release.

The announcement didn’t give a reason for why she plans to step down, and TARC declined to make Butler available for an interview.

An interim director has not been announced, and TARC said the Louisville mayor’s office will search for a permanent replacement.

TARC Board Chair Ted Smith thanked the outgoing executive director in a statement.

“Carrie Butler helped to steer TARC through some of the toughest times in recent memory for both the agency and public transit nationwide,” Smith said.

Butler said she was proud of the agency’s work during her time in leadership.

“I’m especially grateful for the men and women of TARC who kept our buses rolling during COVID. I’m confident I’m leaving TARC in better condition than when I came on board,” she said.

In September 2020, Butler took the reins of the agency, months after its previous executive director resigned amid financial and sexual misconduct allegations. She was previously the general manager of Lexington’s transit agency, and worked from 2002–2010 as TARC’s director of planning.

The leadership change also came during the first months of the COVID pandemic, which drove down bus ridership. More people are riding TARC buses these days, but the figures are still below pre-pandemic levels.

During Butler’s time as executive director, TARC has invested in reducing emissions through electric buses and infrastructure, helped by federal grant money. It also announced long-term goals like having routes with buses available every 15 minutes and building more bus rapid transit corridors.

But TARC says it will need more funding for those plans to succeed. The agency relies on a Jefferson County occupational tax rate of 0.2%, which it criticized earlier this year as outdated.

“If no additional revenue for transit is identified in the next few years, by 2026 existing TARC reserves will be exhausted,” TARC said in a statement, after Metro Council approved the city budget in June.

Butler also faced criticism for the reliability of TARC3, the agency’s paratransit bus system, and for driver safety issues on buses.

In the past year, TARC agreed on a new contract with its workers’ union, continued to cut some underused express routes this year, and released a plan to improve bus reliability on fixed routes.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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