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December 13, 2013

New TARC route to service Ivy Tech, downtown Louisville

Bus route will be serviced by new TARC commuter coach

— Next month, Southern Indiana commuters will have a new way to travel to Louisville.

TARC is launching a new express bus route from Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg to downtown Louisville starting Monday, Jan. 27, according to a press release from the area’s public transportation carrier. The Interstate 65 express route — Route 65X — will carry passengers in one of TARC’s new eTran commuter coaches that were purchased with funding from the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The commuter coaches, unveiled in September, are designed to provide a more comfortable, productive ride, offering free Wi-Fi onboard, outlets for charging phones and other mobile devices and overhead storage, according to the release.

“Commuters can think of the eTran commuter coaches as their mobile work space, rather than sitting in their cars frustrated with traffic congestion,” said J. Barry Barker, TARC executive director in the release. “This route is designed both for Southern Indiana residents working downtown and Kentucky residents attending Ivy Tech.”

A park-and-ride lot will be available for the commuters at Ivy Tech. From Ivy Tech, 10 miles north of downtown Louisville, the route will travel southbound on I-65 into the city, then make several stops for access to central business and medical center locations, with connections to other TARC routes in Louisville. The route will also run northbound on I-65 from Louisville to Ivy Tech. It will provide four morning and four afternoon round trips, according to the release.

“What we’re trying to do is giving people an alternative way to travel to [avoid] getting stuck in bridge traffic,” Barker said.

He said that TARC is looking for opportunities to draw the largest market of the area’s daily commuters to its park-and-ride sites to ride TARC and avoid the headaches of navigating bridge traffic.

Express one-way fare on the new route is $2.75 cash or commuters can purchase a prepaid monthly express pass for $85, offering unlimited rides on all routes.

“[Ivy Tech] is excited about partnering with TARC to offer this service to our students, faculty and staff,” said Ivy Tech Chancellor Rita Hudson Shourds in the release. “This new Sellersburg route will not only be a valuable resource for our campus community, but it will provide the entire region with another option for making their commutes easier and more productive during bridge construction.”

The route is the first express route to be added back into Southern Indiana since TARC made cuts to its bus routes in the summer 2012. While no other routes have been added to Southern Indiana yet, Barker said TARC will keep evaluating and may add or change routes in the future. He said that hopefully the new Sellersburg express route will incentivize some people to tell TARC where public transportation routes should extend to in Southern Indiana.

The TARC commuter coach on the Route 65X is one of 21 buses that are have gone into service this fall and are being paid for, in part, through $20 million that was dedicated to public transportation through Indiana and Kentucky’s transportation departments via the Ohio River Bridges Project. A total of $30 million has been slated for TARC’s enhanced transit (eTran) program over the next four years, which will result in a modernized and more environmentally friendly fleet, upgrades to bus stops, new park and ride locations, adjustments to routes and improved communications technology for sharing information with riders.

Barker added that upgrades to the busses have proven to be a resounding success, especially the Wi-Fi that is being offered.

“Frankly, it was an experiment,” Barker said of the Wi-Fi.

He added that TARC is looking to equip all new buses with Wi-Fi and may retrofit older buses with the technology.

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