TARC Long Range Plan

Long Range PlanAn updated Long Range Plan outlining ways to maintain and improve public transportation in the Louisville region was approved by the TARC Board of Directors.

The purpose of the Long Range Plan Update is to provide guidance on transit options and funding sources for future development of TARC; to provide a basis for coordinating future funding and policies with other decision makers; and to provide a consistent direction for connecting short-term plans with long-term aspirations.

“It pretty much paints the picture of where TARC is today and what needs to be done to respond to growing needs out there now and in the future,” said TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker. “There are some promising policy changes and low-cost improvements we can make today, but it’s pretty clear that additional investment will be needed for a significant change in the service we provide.”

TARC prepared the 61-page plan in consultation with HDR, of Alexandria, Va., and with funding provided by the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA). The report indicates that TARC and the greater Louisville community have a tremendous opportunity to continue to build a more robust and comprehensive transportation system. With proper financing and political support, the system can provide a broader range of transportation options that respond to changing demographics, the changing climate, and changing consumer preferences.

Key findings from the report

  • Community outreach conducted as part of the report mirrored prior studies: Louisville residents desire convenient, fast, frequent and affordable transit. Community leaders and residents highly value existing bus service, would like to improve services for seniors, and ranked a light rail system and intercity passenger rail as the top improvements that they would use.

  • A look at TARC’s short-term and long-term financial outlook illustrates that TARC must have new or greatly expanded funding sources in order to develop advanced transit modes such as Light Rail or commuter rail or even to significantly expand existing bus service.

  • New avenues for expansion of transit services may come from changing federal transportation policies and funding, prompted by the current economic crisis and the recent spike in gas prices. (The report was completed in advance of recent discussion regarding economic stimulus funding for transit.)

  • There are policy changes that could improve transit operations. Options such as dedicated bus lanes and charging drivers who use roadways during congested periods (congestion pricing) could enhance transit operations, but would require significant support from community stakeholders and elected officials.

This update is the first comprehensive review of the community’s transportation needs and options since 2006, when advanced transit options were removed from KIPDA’s long-range plan because of concerns about whether they could be funded. The projects — including the Light Rail Transportation Tomorrow project in the South Central corridor — were eliminated from active consideration in spite of some 500 letters and emails of protest from community residents.

To revive a Light Rail project or another advanced transit option, the report says, TARC would need to increase the local occupational license fee adding to the existing Mass Transit Trust Fund. TARC anticipates that an increase in the occupational tax — from .2% to .4% of every dollar earned — could generate approximately $40 million annually in local revenue dedicated to transit. This local investment in public transportation would provide TARC with stable, consistent funds for service expansion and provide the local matching funds that could leverage many sources of federal funds.

A copy of the full report is available here or by calling TARC at (502) 561-5122.