Louisville’s Union Station was formally dedicated on September 7, 1891 by the arrival of the first train. The total cost of the structure was $310,056, and was the largest station in the South. All contractors, with the exception of Seth Thomas (for the clocks) and Kendell Company (for the skylights) were from Louisville.
Nearly every immigrant to Louisville, countless servicemen and women, General Pershing, and three United States Presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, arrived in Louisville through the doors of Union Station. On October 31, 1976, the last Amtrak train left Louisville’s Union Station for Nashville.
Restoration of the building began in April 1979 and was completed a year later. The new garage and shop were occupied over the weekend of June 2. The cost was about $2 million. After the formal opening ceremonies in mid April 1980, the Transit Authority of River City became the new occupant of Union Station.
Union Station’s first floor is open to the public from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Monday through Friday).
The Nia Neighborhood Travel and Jobs Center (2900 West Broadway), is the focal point for public transportation service and information in west Louisville.
The Nia Center’s Mission is to provide a one-stop interactive environment that builds on the strengths of area residents to enhance business growth and development, to cultivate a marketable workforce, and to improve mobility through increased public transportation access.
The Center serves routes #23 Broadway, #19 Muhammad Ali, #21 Chestnut, #25 Oak Street and #99 UPS Shuttle West Louisville.
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. Fare during peak travel times is 50 cents; non-peak fare is 25 cents.
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.
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.