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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Some TARC riders Tuesday spoke out against proposed route changes they say will mean longer waits for the bus and the elimination of some service.
Clarence Darby, Junior and his wife Kathleen attended a public hearing at the TARC hub in the Nia Center, saying they were troubled with proposed changes to six of the agency's routes: "I'm not accepting this. It's just unacceptable, that's all," said Clarence Darby.
He says TARC is their sole mode of transportation to and from doctors appointments, work, and even the grocery store. Clarence Darby adds, "What they're doing is going to be miserable. I have deteriorating disk, I was born with a cleft foot and I have a curvature of the spine...and also now with my wife, she works at night, too, so that will create a great difficulty."
The Darbys catch route 25 at 34th and Greenwood. Under the proposed changes, that stop goes away. "The alternative is to walk three or four blocks to 34th and Virginia or 34th and Dumesnil to catch the bus," Clarence Darby says.
WDRB's Gilbert Corsey walked that route on a crisp and sunny day, and it took about six and a half minutes. But to an elderly couple with known health concerns, three or four blocks might as well be three or four miles.
TARC Executive Director Barry Barker acknowledges, "It's tough to respond to the collective need for service and try to figure out the best mix that we can provide with the resources we have to meet the needs of folks."
Plans are to merge route 25 with route 55 and create a direct cross-county link for residents of the west and east ends. But much of the neighborhood service on the west end of the route is eliminated, as well as a vital connection to the Nia Center.
Other services being re-routed include bus route 2 affecting the airport, route 4 affecting downtown hospitals, and route 18 affecting service to UPS Worldport.
"The changes will save us about 1.8 million," Barker says. Leaders say 10 percent more riders are on TARC buses than last year, though even with the cuts, there's still another $2 million hole to fill in a $70 million budget.
This hearing turned into an open house as TARC planners sat down one-on-one with concerned riders. Last year changes to 10 express routes were cut in half due to the public backlash.
Clarence Darby hopes the agency will listen again: "It's going to hurt a lot of people and stop people from riding the bus."
This was one of five public hearings this week on the proposed changes. The next one begins at five Tuesday night at the McDowell Center off Westport Road.