The city’s public transit service and parking authority aren’t likely to consolidate anytime in the near future.
This is what the heads of both agencies are expected to tell Metro Council members during a meeting Tuesday with the Public Works, Parks, Sustainability and Transportation Committee.
Documents filed with the council ahead of the meeting show the agencies’ directors plan to respond to a council request that the Parking Authority of River City and the Transit Authority of River City explore “the possibility of any synergies to improve services and reduce costs.”
The request from the Metro Council was included in the city’s current budget.
Tiffany Smith, the head of PARC, and Barry Barker, the head of TARC, will discuss the history and operation of each agency at Tuesday’s meeting. They’ll also convey to the committee that “a potential consolidation of the two agencies presents clear financial and operational concerns,” according to documents filed with the council.
Challenges to consolidation stem from disparate funding streams and financial obligations, as well as the distinct duties of each agency’s personnel, according to the documents.
“A full consolidation would likely necessitate amendment of certain state statues, potentially threaten current revenue and present deep concern about current debt,” the documents state. “Further, consolidation of PARC and TARC would not improve revenues to enhance transportation services in the Louisville Metro.”
‘It just makes sense’
Unlike the Louisville Water Company and the Metropolitan Sewer District, which are working towards a consolidation, Smith and Barker said parking and public transit services in Louisville are just too different to merge.
“PARC and TARC do not have similar synergies,” the document submitted by Smith and Barker states.
Councilwoman Cindi Fowler, who chairs the committee, said she won’t be surprised by Smith and Barker’s presentation.
“I didn’t expect them to consolidate,” Fowler said. “We just want them to try to work together to bring some collaboration, just make things run smoother and more economical.”
Fowler said “it just makes sense” for the city’s top transportation agencies to collaborate.
And Smith and Barker — the agency heads — seem to agree.
In their presentation Tuesday, they’ll laud current collaborative efforts between the two agencies — like PARC’s enforcement against vehicles parked illegally in bus stop areas, shuttle services for local art festivals, and a partnership that allows TARC’s ZeroBus charging equipment to be housed, free of charge, downtown at the Glassworks Garage.
Furthermore, Smith and Barker will present plans for future collaboration that could include using a mobile-phone application for parking meter and bus fare payment and trip planning, “park and ride” facilities for bus rapid transit lines, varying parking prices to encourage transit use, and the installation of TARC kiosks in PARC garages “to facilitate the roll-out of electronic fare cards, the documents show.
“The two agencies will need to collaborate as Louisville continues to build a multi-modal transportation network with an expanded bike network and new transit technologies,” the document states. “We owe it to our citizens to encourage all modes of mobility.”
Agency History and Finances
The Parking Authority of River City is responsible for public parking in Louisville. The agency operates 14 parking garages and six parking lots, which totals more than 11,000 off-street and 5,000 on-street parking spaces, according to the city’s website.
The agency was established in 1966 by the old City of Louisville.
In fiscal year 2017, the agency collected $3.9 million in revenue from parking meters, according to that year’s budget statement. More than $76,700 was collected from meter booting in that year — a near 43 percent increase from the year prior, the statement shows.
The Transit Authority of River City operates 41 bus routes in five counties across the Louisville Metro area and serves some 47,000 riders each day, according to its website.
The agency was created in 1971 by the Kentucky General Assembly and is funded through a portion of the city’s occupational tax revenue and a smattering of government grants.
Bus fare revenue was about $10.2 million in fiscal year 2017 – a slight drop from the year prior, according to the agency’s budget.