The Transit Authority of River City (TARC) provides public transit services in the 391 square mile Louisville, Kentucky metropolitan region that includes parts of southern Indiana. TARC operates 45 routes in 5 counties with 602 employees and a fleet of 210 buses and trolleys and 89 paratransit vehicles. For FY 2010, TARC reported an average of 42, 529 boardings per day or 14.4 million boardings for the fiscal year.
TARC’s involvement with Mobility Management dates back to 2005 when PNC Bank and Metro United Way sponsored a series of visioning workshops regarding the best use of transportation resources for persons in need. The workshops led to the formation of a Transportation Steering Committee that has become the Regional Mobility Council (RMC). RMC is now chaired by the director of the Area Agency on Aging (AAA); TARC provides staff for the Council. The Council’s leadership on the coordinated planning process for the JARC and New Freedom programs helps to bring key partners together in discussions and decision making.
TARC’s approach to mobility management can be summarized in a few key words: collaboration and partnerships. They took the time to solidify working relationships and as a result, the outcomes achieved have been viewed favorably. Key partners currently include TARC, the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA, which is both the MPO and AAA), United Way, the private non-profit Louisville Wheels, and a cab company, among others.
A successful local mobility management activity is the high level of partnership between the transit agency and local major employers. TARC worked with University of Louisville, Louisville Metro (City Government), and Humana (a health insurance and services corporation) to offer transportation services for each. The employees of each agency can use their ID cards as a bus pass. In addition, fixed route service works as a convenient shuttle service between employment buildings and their parking lots. These arrangements have been successful: TARC experienced ridership increases and employers continue to seek TARC’s services.
An example of service exchange is the Non-Profit Vehicle Maintenance Program. TARC works with 11 local social service agencies by accepting more than 40 vehicles into TARC’s preventive maintenance program. The vehicles are dropped off at TARC’s maintenance facilities and two auto mechanics (TARC employees) perform preventive maintenance services. TARC benefits because vehicles operated by social service agencies provide trips to some potential ADA paratransit customers. Other notable programs include Louisville’s purchase of accessible cabs (which assist in providing ADA paratransit services), the Medicaid broker’s purchase of transit passes for their clients, the use of New Freedom funds for sidewalk improvements, a free-fare zone for Louisville’s downtown trolley, vanpools for transportation services in the outer suburbs, and vans for a summer youth employment program.
TARC also worked with non-transportation agencies as well as national organizations to produce a travel training video. TARC, AARP, and KIPDA (the AAA) partnered to produce both local and national versions of the video. TARC and the AAA contract to provide joint travel training sessions for seniors who then receive a bus pass every month for 6 months. The purpose is to introduce them to fixed route travel. The cost of the bus passes is shared by the two agencies. TARC also provides travel training to additional groups and individuals.
TARC is now implementing portions of their FTA, Mobility Services for All Americans, Travel Management Coordination Center grant design. The implementation includes testing automated “day before reminder” and “10 minute alert” calls with volunteer ADA paratransit customers. Testing included offering cell phones to the volunteer paratransit riders to evaluate the effects of automated calls on improving service efficiency and customer satisfaction and reducing no-shows. In the long run, TARC would like to bring collaborative relationships to the next level, where multiple agencies – like aging, ADA paratransit, Medicaid, and cab companies – will integrate riders from their different programs on a regular basis through a one call center.
For those who are new to mobility management concepts, TARC offers this advice: start slowly and develop the personal relationships needed to get the right people around the table. The process will likely take a significant investment of time. An agency with a broad community-wide perspective (like United Way) might be a better initial leader than the transit agency. Once they begin the process, stakeholders often focus on the complete mobility picture, not a partial picture, and this helps in designing an overall structure of mobility services in your region. Keep experimenting with services and service relationships: some will prove to be worthwhile investments. Finally, work to ensure that everyone on your staff considers themselves to be a mobility manager.
Information Provided By:
J. Barry Barker, Executive Director
Nancy Snow, Mobility Manager
Transit Authority of River City (TARC)
1000 W. Broadway
Louisville, KY 40203
Interviewed By: Jon Burkhardt and Joohee Yum
Initial Interview Date: November 3, 2010
Date of This Report: November 9, 2010.