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TARC service reductions to start in July as JCPS approves busing deal

Close up view of a TARC bus on a city street
J. Tyler Franklin
Weekday service on 19 fixed routes will become less frequent, while Saturday and Sunday services remain the same.

In a move to prevent layoffs and work with the public school system to ease its driver shortage, Louisville’s bus system TARC will go ahead with its proposal to fast-track cuts and changes to fixed routes.

Service reductions that were initially planned for early 2025 will kick in at the end of this month.

Weekday service on 19 fixed routes will become less frequent, while Saturday and Sunday services remain the same. TARC will eliminate three routes. Additionally, Route #29 will be shifted to the north of Cherokee Park.

Agency officials say TARC3 paratransit services will not be affected.

List of service changes at TARC

In a press release two weeks ago, TARC Executive Director Ozzy Gibson said the changes were “an opportunity to avoid layoffs.”

“And by keeping more TARC staff working under the TARC umbrella, we’re preserving our ability to provide expanded service in the future if revenue is found,” he said.

TARC is in the midst of a financial crisis. The agency is facing a $30 million operating budget deficit as federal funding runs out.

As a result, the board has proposed $34 million in cuts over the next two years. The quasi-governmental agency is also exploring alternative sources of funding and revenue.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said in April that he backed a deal for Jefferson County Public Schools to hire laid off TARC drivers. That would require shifting 70 TARC drivers to JCPS to mitigate the impacts of both TARC’s financial headwinds and JCPS’ transportation cuts.

Late last month, TARC proposed accelerating the timeline of cuts and reductions if that deal with JCPS went through. If not, TARC said it would go back to the original timeline of early 2025.

At Tuesday night’s Jefferson County Board of Education meeting, board members approved an agreement between TARC and JCPS to move 70 drivers. That could restore transportation to some magnet schools after recent cuts.

If there are enough TARC employees driving JCPS buses, west and southwest Jefferson County Public Schools will be prioritized, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said at the meeting.

But some TARC riders don’t like that cuts will happen sooner than originally thought. The agency held two community meetings this month to gather input on what were then proposed changes. Residents and disability rights advocates criticized TARC’s communication, and expressed concern about how the route changes would impact seniors with disabilities who rely on the service.

TARC will also start its community-driven redesign process called TARC 2025, which launches this summer. The agency is using $1.2 million in federal grants for the redesign process. Residents can fill out a survey as part of TARC’s transit study process.

Divya is LPM's Race & Equity Reporter. Email Divya at dkarthikeyan@lpm.org.

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