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Greenberg says TARC layoffs are an ‘opportunity’ to solve JCPS transportation woes

A man in a suit stands at a podium surrounded by other adults.
Jess Clark
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenburg said TARC layoffs may present an opportunity for JCPS.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg has a proposal to help Jefferson County Public Schools solve a transportation crisis: send them the TARC drivers the transit system is planning to lay off.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg says looming layoffs for the city’s transit system may be an “opportunity” to help Jefferson County Public Schools avoid transportation cuts.

Hours after the TARC board of directors announced $34 million in cuts, Greenberg joined a press conference with Metro Council members and JCPS leaders to say he wants to help TARC drivers who face layoffs get hired quickly by JCPS.

“The proposed solution is that impacted TARC drivers would have the ability to immediately start working for JCPS,” Greenberg said.

He said he would convene a meeting in the coming days of TARC leadership, city leaders, union leaders and JCPS to work out the details.

“I see an opportunity to support TARC drivers, JCPS students and families and our entire community in spite of the challenges that these two organizations are facing,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg would not share how many drivers TARC was planning to lay off, saying leaders were “still working through the exact number.”

“Based on preliminary conversations I’ve had with TARC leadership and with JCPS leadership, we can get pretty darn close, I believe…to addressing this issue that JCPS is faced with right now,” he said.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said the district is “ready and able to hire” any TARC driver who is laid off.

“We will hire every single TARC driver that is available to us…you will get a raise if you come to JCPS,” Polio said.

District 3 JCBE James Craig, who attended the press conference, told LPM a reversal of last week’s vote is unlikely.

“I don't envision a change in the vote,” he said. “I will say that if the projected bus drivers are different — if it’s more than 526 – we need to start adding routes for as many schools back into the system as quickly as possible.”

Proposal angers TARC union

Leaders of the union that represents TARC employees were furious with Greenberg’s proposal and the way he announced it.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1447 president Lillian Brents said union leadership was “blindsided” and had only learned of the mayor’s proposal and the TARC budget cuts hours before the press conference.

For many drivers, Brents said, the press conference was the first they had heard of layoffs.

“We are talking about human beings,” Brents told LPM News.

“To say those things without having a conversation prior to that is inexperience — not only is it inexperience, it’s just disrespectful to the citizens here, and we deserve better leadership,” she said.

A woman outside a stately building speaks to the news media.
Jess Clark
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1447 president Lillian Brents said union leadership was “blindsided” by the mayor's proposal.

TARC is facing a budget shortfall of $30 million, according to the board of directors. The $34 million in cuts over two years will reduce routes across the area, as well as drivers.

The press conference also angered leaders of several Black-led community groups, including Black Lives Matter Louisville and the Louisville Urban League. Leaders from both groups told LPM they had planned to hold a press conference with the Louisville NAACP and some Metro Council members Monday to call for the Jefferson County Board of Education to reverse its decision to cut magnet transportation.

Louisville Urban League President Lyndon Pryor said over the weekend they were asked to combine their presser with additional speakers. Those additions included Pollio and Greenberg.

“There was a lack of clarity as to what would be shared and to what end. It was at that point that I communicated with Metro that I would no longer be participating in the press conference,” Pryor told LPM.

In addition to a reversal of the cuts to magnet and traditional school transportation, the LUL is calling for more community input in JCPS’ transportation plan, a third-party to monitor the district, and a “comprehensive” mass transit strategy in Louisville.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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