Louisville Magazine

MAR 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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4 6 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.14 to let a lot of people of the bus because a lot are going to go to the Louisville Industrial Park," he begins, noting that Fourth Street is a transfer point for both industrial workers and immigrants headed to the Americana Center. "Te next light, I'm gonna drop of all the people at JCTC (Jeferson Community and Technical College). Ten when you get to JCTC and First Street, you hit Taco Bell. You're going to get a lot of people heading out of JCTC. And then you're going to go down two more blocks; you're gonna pick up your wheelchairs because of the hospitals. All the way down to Jackson. Ten when you get to Shelby, you're going to pick up more foreigners. Tey're going to go around to Highland Avenue and Bardstown Road for the Kentucky Refugee Min- istries." Jarret continues, taking me through the fow of people down Bardstown, Taylorsville, out to Six Mile Lane. "I know the routine," he says, chuckling. A bit more 23 trivia, courtesy of Jarret? Headed west from downtown, recently released county jail inmates hit the Social Security ofce on 25th and West Broadway, the parole ofce at 26th and the Nia Center for employment assistance at 29th and West Broadway. Gasoline-powered public transit has existed in Louisville since the 1920s. At the time, 84 million riders utilized a combination of electric- streetcar and bus service. Tat's more than fve times present day. And the city's population was signifcantly smaller. But the age of the automobile eroded ridership. Troughout the 1960s it dropped precipi- tously, and the Louisville Transit Co. (TARC's predecessor) posted its frst-ever defcit in 1971. Tat same year legislators authorized cities and counties to operate mass-transit systems using local funding. By 1974, voters approved an increased occupational tax to fund mass transit. With the help of a federal grant, TARC purchased the Louisville Transit Co. as well as another transit company that served outlying areas. New lines extended service beyond the staples: Broadway, Preston, Fourth Street, Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue. Tose routes have been in place for nearly 100 years. Te 23's now barreling east toward downtown from Shawnee Park. It zips past a string of lonely bus stops. When JCPS cancels classes, fewer people ride. "I wish I could get of all the days that JCPS does," the bus driver, whose hair hides under a black knit hat with a knit fower, jokes. "My son's going to college and he starts signing up for dorms in June. I keep saying to him, 'Y'all gonna be in school until July!'" A middle-aged woman swaddled in a pufy black coat responds, "I don't know why they have to make it up. It's in God's plan." Te driver pauses for a few minutes at the next stop. She's ahead of schedule. "Only thing I hate about not picking up people is I have to wait," she says quietly. Te Louisville skyline basks in a timid morning blue. Up ahead, cresting the tops of buildings, the Aegon Center's glow- ing bubble dims, a night-light no longer needed as dawn breaks. A t 8:18, Tammy Pruitt takes over driving a 23 bus. Dressed in her navy TARC uniform, the 41-year-old African-American with a friendly, cherubic face and glasses adjusts her mirrors and seat, punches her identifcation number into the fare box, fastens her seat belt and steps on the gas. Some drivers bring a bag of chips or a water bottle for their shift. She doesn't. "Too much distraction," she says. She's been driving for eight years. An aunt worked as a TARC driver and encouraged her to join the ranks. It's a familiar story among TARC's 400 drivers: a cousin or uncle recruiting family behind the wheel. Te pay's pretty good, starting at nearly $15 per hour and steadily growing to more than $21 an hour. Training only lasts six weeks. Pruitt had been working at a downtown McDonald's since her teen- age years. It was time for a change. She says she's now mastered all the routes. Her favorite? Te 23. It's hectic, especially in the summertime when kids scramble for a lift to Broadway and Bardstown. Pruitt halts the bus at a stop near Ninth and Broadway. Te doors exhale, hiss and squeak open. "Twenty-three. Hikes and Hurstbourne," she announces to those stepping in before ripping paper transfer tickets to hand over. Not every driver reminds passengers of the route, but Pruitt knows the 23 — with its three diferent end points — can cause confusion. Just the other day she had a young woman heading to an interview for a fast-food job in Newburg, only to realize when it was too late she was headed to Hurstbourne. "Don't know what happened," Pruitt, the mother of a 12-year-old daughter, says. "Don't know if she got that job." A lot has changed since Pruitt started driving. Fifty-two routes have been shaved down to 41 to help save money. Fares have increased from $1.25 to the current $1.75, a sore topic among many passengers who feel it's too much. Pruitt brakes at Tird and Broadway. Pauses. Looks around a bit. She Gasoline-powered public transit has existed in Louisville since the 1920s. At the time, 84 million riders utilized a combination of electric-streetcar and bus service. That's more than four times present day. 42-53 Abort BUS.indd 46 2/19/14 4:26 PM

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