TARC board approves 25-cent fare increase - WDRB 41 Louisville News

TARC board approves 25-cent fare increase

Painful but necessary -- that is how TARC board members feel about the 25-cent fare increase they approved Monday.  With fuel costs skyrocketing, TARC says higher fares and service cuts are the only way it can survive.

July first, the regular TARC fare goes up to $1.25 a ride.  But facing a $10 million fuel bill next fiscal year, TARC is also cutting services to save money.

John Owen. a TARC rider, points out that, "If you want to go to 22nd and Market in Portland after 10:00 at night, you won't be able to get there."

Owen and other TARC riders say paying more isn't the worst problem.  As TARC trims service, route cuts and longer waits for buses will be the real hurt.

TARC rider Lucinda Cotton says, "The paper we got is talking about some buses are not going to go as far as they used to.  So, then, that's going to make a person have to walk."

TARC Director Barry Barker says, "We can sit here and talk about a 2% service cut.  The reality is, if it's your bus, it's a 100% cut."

Barker promises TARC isn't giving up.  It continues to look for ways to improve service and expand service, especially as ridership increases.  But there are no easy solutions.

A coalition of citizen groups says a small tax hike is needed.  They warn public transportation must be improved, not cut back, because $4-a-gallon gas isn't going to go away.

So it is launching a campaign to get citizens to approve an increase in the city occupational tax, a portion of which goes to TARC.  The group says an occupational tax increase of .2% would generate an additional $40 million in revenue for TARC.

Since fares cover only 15% of the cost of bus service, TARC's board admits Monday's rate increase won't solve anything.  It is being asked to get behind the effort to increase TARC's cut of the occupational tax.

Owen says, "Now we're looking at bus service every 40 minutes to an hour.  If we could get an increase in the occupational tax, then, certainly, they could improve service. They could add buses and get the frequency better."

The first step toward getting a transit tax on the ballot is a petition drive to show there is public support.  Transit supporters believe more and more people are realizing Louisville has neglected public transportation for too long.

While voters overwhelmingly turned down a proposed library tax last year, they are optimistic about their chances.

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