Click the Ruby Red bus to view the Celebration Photos

TARC's 40th Anniversary Road Trip Celebration

November 2014

Following a rich history of public transportation in Louisville dating to the earlyand mid-1800s that included horse-drawn coaches, mule cars, electric streetcars, trains and buses, local voters approved funding for The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in a referendum in 1974.

Today TARC provides public transportation in Jefferson, Oldham and Bullitt Counties in Kentucky and Floyd and Clark counties in Indiana.

As a governmental entity authorized by Kentucky statutes, TARC receives guidance through a Board of Directors appointed by the Mayor of Louisville and approved by the Louisville Metro Council.

Here are some highlights that are a testament to how TARC has kept the community moving forward since its inception:

On November 5th, Louisville voters approve a tax increase to fund mass transit. Mayor Harvey Sloane championed the campaign at a time when private mass transit bus operators were going out of business or on the brink of financial collapse and unable to provide adequate service.

With the help of federal funding, TARC purchases the Louisville Transit Company, buys new buses, reduces fares and expands service.

Downtown circulator service, designated as the Louisville-area Rapid Circulator (LARC) began on two routes using nine buses. Fare during peak travel times is 50 cents; non-peak fare is 25 cents.

TARC purchases the Blue Motor Coach Company, which serves suburban areas in Louisville. Train service ends at Union Station, which will later become TARC’s headquarters.

TARC adds another suburban service with the purchase of the Prospect bus line for $14,500. TARC exercises an option to buy the old Union Station terminal and surrounding 15 acres for its future headquarters.

TARC occupies a new maintenance building and garage behind Union Station. Restoration on Union Station begins.

April 10th marks the grand opening of TARC’s new headquarters in the renovated Union Station. Express service begins, with an Oldham County route.

The first wheelchair-lift accessible buses join the fleet.

TARC launches the “Little Belle” Main-Market Circulator Route and assumes the Daisy Line, which operates between New Albany and Louisville, and begins service in Southern Indiana.

America’s oldest living resident, 117-year old Louisvillian Frank Smith, receives an honorary lifetime TARC bus pass. Smith said he’s been riding buses “ever since there’s been a bus” and will do so “as long as I have some place to go.” Smith was born 23 years before Union Station opened in 1890.

Motivated by a lack of access to public transportation, citizens with disabilities organize and protest at Union Station. Three who chained their wheelchairs to the doors were arrested, and others blocked TARC buses on the street. One of the protestors, Arthur Campbell, today serves on the TARC Accessibility Advisory Council.

Toonerville II Trolley bus service is introduced to Fourth Street, bringing trolley service back to downtown Louisville after a nearly 40-year hiatus. The Toonerville II Trolleys are named for the Troonerville Trolley Cartoons by Fontaine Fox and initially run along Fourth Street from Broadway to the Ohio River waterfront.

TARC’s first low-floor vehicles, the ramp-equipped Orion II, are introduced, improving access for passsengers with disabilities. The introduction coincides with the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26.

TARC launches door-to-door TARC3 Paratransit service.

TARC buses become Safe Place sites in cooperation with National Safe Place, the first initiative of its kind in the country. Other transit agencies follow suit and partner with Safe Place to designate their buses as safe places where youths in need of services can access help.

TARC opens the Nia Neighborhood Jobs Center in the 2900 block of West Broadway in a cooperative effort with Metro Government and the Empowerment Zone community initiative.

1998, TARC’s website, and TARCLine, an automated route, schedule and customer service telephone information system, begin operating.

TARC introduces bike racks, the UPS Metropolitan College ridership program and the TARC Job Hunter Bus, a fare-free service that helps people access jobs and educational opportunities.

TARC also begins the Design-A-Bus program with local school districts for a K-8 art competition that results in a student-decorated “art bus.”

TARC begins a partnership with the University of Louisville that allows faculty, students and staff to ride fare-free.

TARC’s fleet becomes 100 percent compliant and accessible under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The maiden voyage of the First Friday Trolley Hop occurs. This partnership between TARC and the downtown business community continues to promote businesses, restaurants, museums and shops in the downtown, NuLu (East Market) and SoFo (South Fourth Street) neighborhoods.

TARC concludes a multi-year study that would bring light rail to Louisville by 2007. Known as “T2,” the project ultimately is shelved due to a lack of financial support. As a security measure, TARC begins installing video cameras on buses.

TARC introduces five hybrid-electric buses to Louisville. TARC and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1447 receive the Labor Management Award from the University of Louisville. TARC receives awards from the Louisville Urban League, Kentuckiana Works Education and the Louisville Central Labor Council AFL-CIO for positive contributions as an employer.

The F.A.T. Friday Trolley Hop begins along the Frankfort Avenue corridor in the Butchertown, Clifton and Crescent Hill neighborhoods.

TARC is named the 2005 Urban Community Transportation System of the Year by the Community Transportation Association of America. TARC begins a partnership with Louisville Metro Government that allows its employees to ride fare-free.

TARC implements the Ride to Safety Program in partnership with the Center of Women and Families, which offers assistance to passengers in need of help by connecting them with community resources.

TARC Executive Director Barry Barker is named the 2007 Outstanding Public Transportation Manager by APTA. TARC begins a partnership with Humana for its employees to ride TARC fare-free.

During an epic ice storm on Jan. 29 that leaves more than 200,000 people without power, 80 percent of TARC’s fleet stays in operation. From Jan. 30 to Feb. 2, TARC3 paratransit vans and Yellow Cab, which supplements paratransit service, transported 236 people from their homes to shelters or to homes of relatives to ride out the storm and its aftermath.

Due to the economic downturn, TARC eliminates four routes, reduces service on 20 other routes and lays off more than 40 employees to help offset budget shortfalls. With contributions from business and civic organizations in downtown Louisville, the Fourth Street trolley route is spared and all trolley service becomes fare-free. TARC receives a federal grant for the restoration and weatherization of the doors and windows at Union Station and the replacement of the heating and cooling system.

TARC opens a new Maintenance and Training Annex behind Union Station where buses are cleaned and drivers are trained. The building receives a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy-saving and conservation features, including a green roof and sensors that regulate heating and cooling.

A new TARC radio system that is part of MetroSafe and designed to improve safety and operating efficiency is completed.

TARC joins the Google Transit Partnership Program for easy online trip-planning through Google Maps. TARC becomes active on social media with a Twitter account.

Barry Barker receives the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation from the Transportation Research Board.

TARC receives funding from the Ohio River Bridges Project for capital improvements including 21 eTran (for enhanced transit) commuter coaches and 12 TARC3 paratransit vehicles. The eTran buses feature free Wi-Fi onboard and electrical outlets for charging cellphones and other mobile devices. TARC’s Design-A-Bus appears in the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Pegasus Parade.

TARC develops a mobile site to better serve the customers.

TARC introduces real-time bus arrival information online through Google Maps and a TARC-hosted trip planner.

Plans are under way for a new electronic fare collection system that will allow passengers to pay fares onboard using tap-and-go smartcard technology in place of paper tickets and passes.

At its 40th anniversary celebration, TARC unveils a new logo and introduces the first ZeroBus, one of 10 all-electric zero-emissions buses that will replace the downtown trolleys, TARC’s highest-polluting vehicles.