Working through confusion of new electronic payment method on TARC

An electronic fare box on a TARC bus. Riders now swipe a MyTARC card to pay.
An electronic fare box on a TARC bus. Riders now swipe a MyTARC card to pay.
Updated: Feb. 14, 2019 at 7:00 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There is confusion aboard TARC buses since a new electronic payment method launched a month ago.

About sixty percent of TARC riders use the bus to commute to work, so there is little time for delays. Supervisors help troubleshoot issues for riders and bus drivers, but some say it’s not enough.

The MyTARC Card is a new electronic payment method launched in January. The cards eliminated paper tickets that riders had used for decades.

Getting funds on a new card is not only the most important part of using the card--it’s also causing the most problems. TARC says they want the public to remain positive towards the program.

“It’s a learning experience,” TARC Interim Executive Director Ferdinand Risco said. “It’s been 44 years since our customers have learned to pay us differently and 30 days in, I think we are doing pretty good.”

Risco said the biggest issue is educating riders how to properly load funds onto their card. Bus drivers often call supervisors to troubleshoot.

“Well, he is going to have to pay on both buses and call customer service tomorrow and then they will take care of it,” said a TARC supervisor in response to a MyTARC card issue on the bus.

"But that was all the money he had," responded the bus driver.

Time is important for both the bus drivers and the riders trying to get somewhere. Risco said funds can take up to 48 hours to become available.

Rebecca Nordhoff has presented her new MyTARC card to pay bus fare, only to be told the funds she placed on the card were not there.

“You’ll have a line of people behind you, and they are getting upset because they have to be somewhere,” Nordhoff said.

Nordhoff said she has been told to call or email customer service. But she said the wait times conflict with the urgency of getting to work.

“To know that you have money on that card, but it doesn’t work, is frustrating,” Nordhoff said.

Risco said TARC are increasing their educational efforts with community outreach and instructional videos.

“The system is doing what it was intended to do and that is for us to be able to acquire data,” Risco said,

For Nordhoff, she’s been late for work since using her MyTARC card.

“I now have to call my boss and apologize for being late,” Nordhoff said.

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