TARC investing millions in Enhanced Transit | Transportation
Press Release from TARC
LOUISVILLE, KY - TARC officials were joined by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and representatives of Kentucky, Indiana and federal transportation agencies to launch 21 distinctive, new buses called “commuter coaches” – the start of more than $30 million in investments to modernize the public transportation system serving Greater Louisville.
Over the next four years, TARC’s eTran program – for Enhanced Transit – will result in a more environmentally-friendly fleet, upgrades to bus stops, new Park ‘n’ Ride locations, adjustments to routes (particularly cross-river) and improved communications technology. All-electric buses circulating in downtown Louisville and an electronic fare collection system for passengers to pay onboard with the tap of a smartcard are among other major upgrades on the horizon.
The majority of funding for the improvements is $20 million allocated by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project.
“Our eTran projects will help TARC better meet the needs of the traveling public as construction from the Bridges Project causes increased traffic disruptions and congestion,” said J. Barry Barker, TARC Executive Director. “After the bridges construction is complete, the riding public will benefit from these investments for years to come.”
Mayor Fischer said that while the new Ohio River bridges will ease congestion and facilitate commuter and business traffic in years ahead, “TARC is looking to the future with planning and improvements that will help make public transit an increasingly important part of our transportation mix. These new state-of-the-art buses and other enhancements come at a critical time to help ease the challenges during the next several years of bridge related construction.”
“From its inception, the purpose and need of the Ohio River Bridges Project has been to make it easier for commuters to cross the river between Louisville and Southern Indiana,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “TARC has always played a critical role in transportation in this region. It was obvious and only natural that TARC should be part of our solution for improved cross-river mobility.”
“Indiana and Kentucky are honoring their commitments to mitigate impacts of the Ohio River Bridges Project, which will transform Southern Indiana and improve how its citizens live, play and commute,” said Jim Stark, INDOT Deputy Commissioner for Innovative Project Delivery. “An important part of this is the states’ commitment to fund capital improvements for TARC.”
New eTran ‘commuter coaches’ to serve cross-river and express routes
The first 10 of the 21 commuter coaches to join the fleet will begin operating tomorrow on TARC’s two cross-river routes. The new buses will replace buses that are at least 15 years old and have traveled more than 500,000 miles. All 21 new buses will be in operation in October. In addition to cross-river routes, the buses will travel on some express routes.
The new buses, manufactured by Gillig at a total cost of $9.5 million, feature free Wi-Fi on board, power charging stations for smartphones and other mobile devices and overhead storage. They each seat 40. A flier describing all the features of the new buses is attached.
Starting Monday, TARC also makes it easier to plan a bus trip on a smartphone with the launch of a mobile www.ridetarc.org website featuring a Google Maps trip planner link and information about routes, schedules and fares.
TARC will be promoting the use of public transportation during the Bridges Project construction with an advertising campaign that begins next month.
In addition to the 21 commuter coaches, other eTran investments funded through the Bridges Project grant will include:
- 12 TARC3 and six vanpool vehicles
- Upgrades to bus stops and new Park ‘n’ Ride locations
- Expanded communication tools – including texting, new web and social media platforms - to continuously inform the public about bus schedules, routes and stops
- Facility upgrades at TARC’s Union Station headquarters and the transportation hub at the Nia Center
- Adjustments of some routes, particularly cross-river routes, to help alleviate traffic congestion resulting from bridges construction
“These investments will take pressure off our operating budget so that we can maintain and improve our service reach and frequency as much as possible,” Barker said. “The result will be a leaner, greener TARC operation and that means better service.”
Other federal grants announced in the past year will pay for several new all-electric buses and the electronic fare collection system on all buses.The electric buses and the fare collection system, which is in development, are expected to be in operation in about a year.
What’s a commuter coach?
The new eTran commuter coaches are the first step toward a whole new TARC. These next-generation buses make the commute to and from work more comfortable and productive – especially with traffic congestion and delays during bridges construction.
TARC’s eTran, for Enhanced Transit, will invest $30 million through 2017 to modernize the public transportation system serving Greater Louisville. The majority of funding for the improvements is $20 million allocated by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project.
What are the features of a commuter coach?
- Free on-board Wi-Fi (for laptop, tablet and smartphone use)
- Electrical outlets for riders to charge electronics during commutes
- Overhead storage
- Seats 40 passengers
How many commuter coaches will be on the streets?
The commuter coaches will travel on cross-river and some express routes starting Sept. 24, 2013. By October, all 21 commuter coaches, roughly 10 percent of the TARC fleet, will be in service. They will replace less efficient buses that are at least 15 years old with 500,000 miles or more.
More eTran coming soon!
With the addition of the commuter coaches, 25 percent of TARC’s fleet will be new buses with the latest energy conserving and air quality technology. TARC also has plans to add 12 new TARC3 vehicles, six new Ticket to Ride vanpool vehicles and all-electric zero emissions buses that will circulate downtown. Upgrades to bus stops, new Park ‘n’ TARC locations, adjustments to routes (particularly cross-river), improved communications technology and an electronic fare collection system — for passengers to pay onboard with the tap of a smartcard — are in the works.
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