LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The National Weather Service recently issued its first two air quality alerts of 2017 after the Louisville Air Watch measured for significant air pollutants.
Louisville's poor air quality helped TARC attain funding for 15 zero-emission electric buses. When the electric buses first hit the street in 2015, the goals were to reduce emissions and operating costs, and get people on the bus.
The electric buses run for free on two circular routes in the central business district, and those who work in the area are ideal riders.
"For me not having to get my car out of parking and deal with traffic and the lights, it was just great to see everything that was going on, on Market Street and Main Street," Ramie Martin-Galijatovic said.
Martin-Galijatovic rode the Main/Market ZeroBus for the first time on Friday. She has worked in the central business district for several years.
"I have to park several blocks from my work place and so rather than me go get my car, I had to d rop something off at an office on Market, so I hopped on the bus," she said.
For more than two years, TARC has offered two free routes on their ZeroBuses traveling east/west on Main and Market, and north/south on Fourth Street.
"There is nothing we can do as a transit agency to reduce congestion and emissions that is as powerful as people getting on the bus. Leaving their car at home and getting on the bus or parking at a lot and taking the bus," TARC spokesman Jeffery Hobin said.
Hobin said since the ZeroBus does not collect a fare, it's hard to keep track of how many people are riding on the line.
"It was very empty," Martin-Galijatovic said. "I was very surprised."
The routes run Monday through Saturday with the latest ride ending at 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 6 p.m. on Saturday. The ZeroBus on 4th St. and Main/Market cost $1,676,00 a year. TARC covers most of that cost and the Downtown Partnership provides some subsidies as well.
"The more dense we become, the more we reinvest in our urban infrastructure and the more housing and the more services relocate to the urban core, transit will follow," Hobin said.
According to the Louisville Downtown Partnership, there are 65,884 jobs in the central business district. One of those workers, Martin-Galijatovic, said she wants to continue using the Zero Bus.
"I think if I were to get my car out of parking and do the driving and parking at my destination, it probably would have been longer," Martin-Galijatovic said.