The Route 23 bus runs down Broadway and Bardstown Rd. Starting Sunday, TARC began stretching the gaps between bus arrivals some places on the main segment of the route. But the agency’s executive director Barry Barker said they didn’t anticipate the effects on the parts of Route 23 that branch off in different directions.
In some cases, the change eliminated any buses before 6 a.m. That was a problem for folks heading home from overnight shifts, or setting out for a day of work.
It’s likely that many of the riders affected didn’t have a car they could just drive instead. In Louisville, people living in poverty are four times more likely than others to rely on public transportation.
“This is not a good situation and we’re going back and reviewing and looking at service that we’ve got out there and fixing it,” Barker said.
TARC planned to use use temporary buses called “trippers” on Friday to fill major gaps. By Monday, Barker said he hopes to have a permanent fix in place.
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The changes messed with people’s ability to get to work, home or school. Barker said TARC wants to do right by its customers, even if it means forgoing the savings it had hoped for with the planned changes.
“It doesn’t help us budget-wise but it certainly helps us with our dedication to providing customers with service,” he said.
Barker said the new schedules went out to transit apps, but weren’t available right away on Google Maps.
The agency made last-minute changes to Route 23 late last week, which it mentioned in social media posts and in its email newsletter, TARC’s director of marketing Russell Goodwin said.
On Facebook, some riders said they were surprised to show up to their stops on time and not be met by a bus.
Until this week, Highlands resident Rita Safranek regularly took the No. 23 bus to her job as a library database editor downtown. She would hop on at Bardstown and Gardiner at 5:24 a.m. and get off at Broadway and 4th to start work at 5:45.
She can’t do that anymore. The first bus to her stop now arrives at 6:35.
Safranek said she feels fortunate that she’s a TARC rider by choice. She has the option to drive to work when needed.
But she said she shared her early-morning bus with overnight grocery store shelf-stockers headed home and hospital workers headed to their shifts.
While some may see tweaks to a bus route as minor, Safranek said they can really hurt people who can’t afford to have cars.
“Oh, I can’t even imagine,” she said. “I would guess that some of them would have to find a new job because they can’t either get there or get home.”
Changes such as this one can hurt people who have no other way to get to work, Safranek said.
“Doesn’t seem like a big deal but for these people, it is,” she said. “This is the kind of thing that helps grow those gaps.”