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'A missed ride is never OK' | TARC3 driver shortage, long wait time issues still persist

Rider Libby Davis said she often has rides show up late, or not at all. TARC officials said they and their contractor are working on recruitment.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A driver shortage is still plaguing the Transit Authority of River City's (TARC) para-transit service for riders with disabilities, TARC3. 

Long wait times for the service have persisted since this summer and travelers who depend on the service are frustrated as ever. 

"It gets your blood pressure up and I don't need that," rider Libby Davis said. "I understand its because a lack of drivers, so don't schedule the ride. If you can't do it then you need to say so."

RELATED: TARC3 user says wait for rides becoming dangerously long

Communications director Jenny Recktenwald said their para-transit contractor, MV Transportation is short about 25 drivers. TARC's fixed routes are short about 50.

She said MV transportation is now offering $17 an hour which is a $2 an hour pay increase for TARC3 drivers. 

RELATED: TARC testifies over solutions to bus service issues, advocates remain skeptical

"A missed ride is never OK and we want that number to be zero every day and that's what we're working toward," Recktenwald said.

MV transportation also has eight more drivers in training. There are two years left on TARC's contract with the company and Recktenwald said it would be extremely expensive to operate para-transit internally.

Meanwhile, drivers are asking for more money, requesting a premium pay bonus because of the pandemic. ATU Local 1447 Union President Lillian Brents said those negotiations have stalled. 

"You can't ask a person to go above and beyond and you're not willing to go above and beyond with them," she said. "No wonder the service is what is it."

TARC officials said they'll head back to the negotiating table in the next few days, after the union turned down their first offer. Brents said that offer wasn't enough and didn't include TARC3 drivers. 

Recktenwald said TARC is hiring for standard rides, TARC3 and maintenance. She encouraged TARC3 riders to report issues to customer service.

RELATED: 'They've broken my trust': TARC3 problems persist, frustrated customers protest and ask for changes

RELATED: TARC testifies over solutions to bus service issues, advocates remain skeptical

Contact reporter Grace McKenna at GMcKenna@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter. 

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