Elite cities have solid public transportation. Apparently, Louisville isn’t one. Skip to content

Elite cities have solid public transportation. Apparently, Louisville isn’t one.

It’s time for The Ville to face facts: our public transit system is bad, and getting worse.

2 min read
(photo by R.E. McNair [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons)

I have lived in The Ville since 1992. My wife and I fell in love with the city when we moved here, and continue to celebrate its many wonderful features, including the food, the arts, and so on.

What we cannot celebrate, however, is the so-called “public transit system,” or TARC (Transit Authority of the River City). And now, our second-rate system has become too ugly to ignore.

Buses are late, or don’t run at all. Sometimes, the TARC web site and the mobile app say they are coming, when in fact they are “out of service.” (Which you don’t find out until you call the TARC Line – if you can get someone to answer.)

Supposedly, you can use the mobile app to see where you bus is – but some buses have no GPS and no way to contact the driver, so they are in effect “ghost buses.” Is your bus coming? Who knows?

Working people rely on TARC to get to work and get back home. We have a relative who is one of those that use TARC as their main mode of transportation around the city, and so we hear first-hand about the train wreck that is Louisville’s public transportation.

And now, when it appeared things couldn’t get any worse, TARC has announced that they are cutting services and eliminating multiple routes. What had been a difficult journey from Point A to Point B is now an impossible journey – which means if you used TARC to get to work, you are SOL.

Let’s be clear: The wealthy of this city don’t care about TARC, because they don’t use it. They care about more bridges, and expanded interstates, and all the rest of an auto-centric, damn-the-environment culture.

They have allowed TARC to limp along for decades, and now that neglect is coming home to roost.

But if city leaders and the movers and shakers cared about everyday citizens as much as they like to say they do, they would realize that Louisville’s public transit situation is very bad and getting worse. Even more, they would do something about it.

Those same leaders and movers and shakers talk about competing with Nashville and Indianapolis. They dream of getting a pro sports team to come here, or enticing a Fortune 50 company to put their HQ here. Hey leaders, guess what – with this non-mass-transit system, your chances range from slim to none.

You want to be an elite city, Louisville? Then build the kind of public transit system that other elite cities have. Put the resources into it, make it trustworthy, make it a valuable part of the city.

Otherwise, we will have to assume that you only care about being elite – for the elite.


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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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