Monday September 23, 2013
TARC officials today were joined by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and representatives of Kentucky, Indiana and federal transportation agencies to launch 21 distinctive, new buses called “commuter coaches” – the start of more than $30 million in investments to modernize the public transportation system serving Greater Louisville.
Over the next four years, TARC’s eTran program – for Enhanced Transit – will result in a more environmentally-friendly fleet, upgrades to bus stops, new Park ‘n’ Ride locations, adjustments to routes (particularly cross-river) and improved communications technology. All-electric buses circulating in downtown Louisville and an electronic fare collection system for passengers to pay onboard with the tap of a smartcard are among other major upgrades on the horizon.
The majority of funding for the improvements is $20 million allocated by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project.
“Our eTran projects will help TARC better meet the needs of the traveling public as construction from the Bridges Project causes increased traffic disruptions and congestion,” said J. Barry Barker, TARC Executive Director. “After the bridges construction is complete, the riding public will benefit from these investments for years to come.”
Mayor Fischer said that while the new Ohio River bridges will ease congestion and facilitate commuter and business traffic in years ahead, “TARC is looking to the future with planning and improvements that will help make public transit an increasingly important part of our transportation mix. These new state-of-the-art buses and other enhancements come at a critical time to help ease the challenges during the next several years of bridge related construction.”
“From its inception, the purpose and need of the Ohio River Bridges Project has been to make it easier for commuters to cross the river between Louisville and Southern Indiana,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “TARC has always played a critical role in transportation in this region. It was obvious and only natural that TARC should be part of our solution for improved cross-river mobility.”
“Indiana and Kentucky are honoring their commitments to mitigate impacts of the Ohio River Bridges Project, which will transform Southern Indiana and improve how its citizens live, play and commute,” said Jim Stark, INDOT Deputy Commissioner for Innovative Project Delivery. “An important part of this is the states’ commitment to fund capital improvements for TARC.”
New eTran ‘commuter coaches’ to serve cross-river and express routes
The first 10 of the 21 commuter coaches to join the fleet will begin operating tomorrow on TARC’s two cross-river routes. The new buses will replace buses that are at least 15 years old and have traveled more than 500,000 miles. All 21 new buses will be in operation in October. In addition to cross-river routes, the buses will travel on some express routes.
The new buses, manufactured by Gillig at a total cost of $9.5 million, feature free Wi-Fi on board, power charging stations for smartphones and other mobile devices and overhead storage. They each seat 40. A flier describing all the features of the new buses is attached.
Starting today, TARC also makes it easier to plan a bus trip on a smartphone with the launch of a mobile www.ridetarc.org website featuring a Google Maps trip planner link and information about routes, schedules and fares.
TARC will be promoting the use of public transportation during the Bridges Project construction with an advertising campaign that begins next month.
In addition to the 21 commuter coaches, other eTran investments funded through the Bridges Project grant will include:
· 12 TARC3 and six vanpool vehicles
· Upgrades to bus stops and new Park ‘n’ Ride locations
· Expanded communication tools – including texting, new web and social media platforms - to continuously inform the public about bus schedules, routes and stops
· Facility upgrades at TARC’s Union Station headquarters and the transportation hub at the Nia Center
· Adjustments of some routes, particularly cross-river routes, to help alleviate traffic congestion resulting from bridges construction
“These investments will take pressure off our operating budget so that we can maintain and improve our service reach and frequency as much as possible,” Barker said. “The result will be a leaner, greener TARC operation and that means better service.”
Other federal grants announced in the past year will pay for several new all-electric buses and the electronic fare collection system on all buses.The electric buses and the fare collection system, which is in development, are expected to be in operation in about a year.