Frequently Asked Questions

Does TARC make a profit?
TARC is a non-profit public service, not a for-profit company. About 2/3 of the money to operate TARC comes from local, state and federal tax revenue and about 1/3 comes from fares paid by our customers.

Why doesn’t TARC have more service throughout the Metro area?
TARC is constantly challenged to provide high quality transit service throughout the five-county service area, which includes the TARC3 paratransit service. There are always more requests than there are resources. The current sources of revenue for TARC include a portion of the occupational tax in Louisville, fares collected on the vehicles, grants from the federal government, grants from private agencies and partnership agreements with local agencies and businesses.

Why do you cut service?
TARC resources are limited and there is always more demand for service than there are resources. Budget strains often call for a reduction in service and unfortunately, there are customers who are affected. When decisions to reduce services are made, TARC looks for service that is duplicated with other routes and is used by a low number of customers.

How does new service begin?
In recent years most new service, for altogether new routes, has been started through federal grants. Sometimes existing routes are extended through restructuring or adjusting other services, which minimizes costs while still keeping up with demand. Unfortunately, some new service that had been started with grant funds eventually has to be discontinued when the grant is completed.

Why does the schedule change so often?
TARC schedules change three times per year and there are usually only a few routes affected. The schedules are changed in January, May and August, corresponding to the time when schools let out, which greatly effect travel patterns throughout the community. It is also required by TARC’s union that operators have an opportunity to change their work schedule at the time of the schedule change. The schedule change also gives TARC an opportunity to update service based on the needs of customers.

Why do I sometimes see empty TARC buses?
TARC’s system is designed to meet peak demand, just like other transportation systems including highways and roads. For example, the vehicle traffic on I-64 during rush hour is much heavier than it is at 2 a.m.

Yet, the highway has to be built to accommodate the rush-hour requirement. It’s the same for TARC. TARC adjusts the number of buses on the road depending on capacity needed. This means there are more buses operating during weekday rush hours than in the evenings or on weekends. On Sundays, TARC operates less than 25% of the buses used during rush hour on a weekday.

Sometimes buses are empty because they are coming from the garage to begin their work. Other times buses may be empty after passengers have exited at a primary destination such as downtown and the bus is just beginning the other leg of its trip.

Why doesn’t TARC use smaller buses during less busy times?
TARC is considering smaller buses for some service needs, but substituting a smaller bus would not always save money. A bus that begins work for the afternoon rush hour, for example, may stay out on the road long into the evening. It would not be practical to bring the large bus back to the garage after rush hour and then send out a smaller bus. This would mean lost schedule time, wasted manpower, and increased operating expense. Smaller vehicles work most efficiently on designated services that never require a bigger bus even during rush hour.

Why aren’t there more Park and TARC lots?
We are looking at ways to increase the number of park and ride lots. Many park and ride lots are located in church parking lots or in shopping centers. In most cases we rely on the generosity and cooperation of the property owner to allow us the temporary use of the parking lot.

Why do you time your buses to end up downtown when they do?
Buses are typically scheduled at the times of the peak work and commuting hours. Even though some companies have changed their work schedules, many people still work from around 8 a.m. to around 5 p.m.

Why do I sometimes see buses just sitting at the side of the road?
The bus may be picking up or dropping off passengers with a bike, wheelchair or stroller. The bus may be at the layover, which is considered a break for the driver, or the driver may be using the restroom at a convenience store or other designated comfort stop location.

Another reason might be that the bus is running earlier than scheduled. When we plan a schedule, we put in a few extra minutes because things happen (traffic, weather, accidents, etc.) and we want to get back on schedule immediately if these delays occur. Or, the bus may be holding back for a few minutes so it doesn’t run early and miss passengers.

How does TARC maintain bus stop shelters?
TARC works with an outdoor advertising company, Brightside, and Metro Solid Waste to maintain bus stop shelters. We also have a Passenger Facilities Coordinator who works with these agencies along with Metro Public Works and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Who decides where bus stops or shelters should be?
There are about 4,500 TARC bus stops in the five-county service area. TARC looks for locations that offer safety and customer convenience. However, within Louisville Metro, the city or state traffic engineers make the final decision about bus stop location, in consultation with TARC. Bus stop shelters are typically located in areas where there is a high level of passenger activity or where a number of routes come together.

Shelters are maintained and purchased by an outdoor advertising company. The newspaper boxes or benches with advertising on them are not affiliated with TARC in any way.

Why isn’t there more information at bus stops?
With over 4,500 stops, adding information and keeping that information up to date can be challenging. We are currently looking at ways to enhance the information available on the street as well as information that is provided through our phone system and website.

Why are sidewalks absent from some roads on which TARC has routes?
Many of the streets in Louisville were developed without sidewalks; some were planned to be added later and some streets were developed without sidewalks at the desire of the individual property owner. Regardless of the presence of sidewalks, many people still need to travel via transit to these areas. For this reason, many TARC routes follow streets without sidewalks. TARC works with transportation engineers and private property owners to add sidewalks, but it is not ultimately TARC’s decision as to where sidewalks are located.

How can my employer help pay for employee transit benefits?
TARC works with local employers to provide a number of options to make it easier and less costly for employees to get to work. Employers can pay for TARC monthly passes or enter into an agreement with TARC for a company-wide pass program. Tax benefits are available for employers and employees when transit benefits are offered.

Are there options for employers to support employee mass transit usage?
TARC has an array of services to help employers support transit use. Many of Louisville's major employers enter into agreements with TARC where their employees ride fare-free Transit fairs are held in many locations to provide information about TARC to employees. Personalized, shared-ride service is available for late-night workers, the Job Hunter bus can transport potential employees to job fairs, and the Ticket to Ride VanPool program may be an option for some employees. Contact TARC’s Corporate Accounts Coordinator for more information: (502) 561-5112.

What happened to Light Rail?
The Light Rail project began with a Major Investment Study in 1996. After initial studies and analysis, rapid transit was prioritized over other alternatives and the locally preferred South Central Corridor was selected. The project entered into the Federal New Starts Program, and it was approved as a project in Horizon 2030, the region’s long-range transportation plan. The project then moved into Preliminary Engineering after the FTA issued a "recommended" rating and the draft environmental impact statement was completed. In 2004–2006, the FTA implied that the movement into Final Design was not possible without a secured local match and the Draft Environmental Statement was not released for public review. At this point, TARC withdrew the Transportation Tomorrow project from New Starts program due to the inability to secure local funding