Bus service asks for exemption from tolls - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Bus service asks for exemption from tolls

Cedric Merlin Powell Cedric Merlin Powell
Lottie Huckaby Lottie Huckaby
Barry Barker Barry Barker

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - You will pay to cross the new downtown and East End bridges, but what does that mean for the people in our community who can't afford the extra expense to get to the other side of the river?

Both Indiana and Kentucky are taking input this week on how to ease the burden of tolls on low-income folks. The first of two meetings happened Monday in Clarksville. The second goes from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 23 at the African American Heritage Center at 17th and West Muhammad Ali Streets in Louisville.

Even before those meetings TARC already asked the states to exempt them from paying tolls. The chair of its Board of Directors said they don't believe the area's bus system can operate efficiently paying a toll every time they cross the river.

"We're really concerned about the mobility of our passengers and passing on that expense to passengers who already pay a fare on TARC," explained Cedric Merlin Powell.

Tolls causing a potential increase in rates concerns passengers like Lottie Huckaby. Getting from Jeffersonville to Louisville is a matter of life and death for Huckaby. Every day she travels across the river to get radiation treatments for lung cancer. She cannot afford to drive herself.

"Every day I have to take treatments, so I have to do it every day so you're looking at $3.50 a trip for just one day," said Huckaby.

It's a small price to pay for her health, but not one she wants to increase because of bridge tolls.

Barry Barker, TARC's executive director, said they're not considering it now, but their busses cross the river nearly a thousand times a week. Paying money each time would affect their budget. "If we end up paying tolls that's certainly not dollars turning wheels."

As part of the bridge project each state must pay TARC $10 million because part of making the project a reality included enhancing bus service. None of that money goes towards operations. Barker said the majority will go towards 21 new buses.

"Those buses will have more comfortable seat, luggage rack, WiFi," said Barker.

Those are perks that could make commutes less stressful then dealing with traffic in a car. A high-tech bus would be nice for Huckaby, but if that also includes an increase in rates riders like Huckaby they may not matter if it costs even more to ride.

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