LOUISVILLE, Ky. — At a Metro Council budget meeting last week, TARC Executive Director Carrie Butler was asked about complaints from the disabled community about the TARC3 bus service. One of the service’s regulars says wait times and delays are becoming dangerously long.
For Libby Davis, TARC3 is the main way to get to and from important medical appointments she says she can't miss. But ever since the pandemic started, she says what was once a reliable service, is now anything but.
"I call them, and they come and get me within about 30 minutes or something like that,” Davis said of her normal, pre-pandemic experiences.
Davis, who is diabetic, started using TARC3 a few years ago. The bus service specifically for people with disabilities has been a reliable way to get to her appointments until recently.
"During the pandemic and after it's just been crazy when it comes to TARC3,” she said.
Tuesday, Davis took TARC to an appointment. She tried to schedule a will-call pick up, calling for a driver when her appointment ended. She's used to having to wait, but not this long.
“That was a six-hour wait in between the time I was finished and the time to be picked up,” Davis said. “They never called me to say it was going to be that. I had to call them three times.”
At last week’s Metro Council budget meeting, TARC's executive director Carrie Butler said driver shortages were to blame for delays.
"The biggest challenge is the number of drivers available for TARC3 and fixed routes, so I have said I can hire 100 people today and we are actively engaged in a campaign. I hope you've seen some of our billboards,” Butler said last week.
In a statement Wednesday, Butler echoed that message writing in part "when you are short on bus operators, it affects service, and when it affects service, unfortunately, our customers are impacted."
Libby Davis said one of the biggest issues for her was the lack of transparency for how long her wait would be that day.
“If someone makes a reservation you need to tell that person so they can plan accordingly,” she said.
For her, it’s too little, too late. Fearing a dangerous drop in her blood sugar, she found another ride home Tuesday.
"I had eaten before I left and taken insulin, so I was good, but it turned out it didn't work like that,” she said. "They've broken my trust.”
While she says she may turn to TARC for one-way rides, the waiting game isn't worth her life.
"I'll use TARC3 then, but I will never do another will call ever."
Davis is recommending other TARC riders report problems or delays to the agency immediately.
Metro Council still needs to approve TARC's budget, but a spokesperson said today that "significant time and consideration went into the budget and they are confident it will pass."
To apply to work for MV, TARC3 service, find information here or in person at MV’s recruiting center located at MV Transportation, 830 South 13th Street Louisville, KY 40210.
For those wishing to apply to TARC, fixed route service, apply online or in person TARC HQ located at 1000 W. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40203.