Many people were upset throughout the county when the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) announced that they would be raising the bus fare by 25 cents to help reduce a large projected budget deficit. With TARC bleeding money when riders cheat the system by selling transfers, using transfers well after it is expired, and using fake bus passes, it is easy to see how they can have a funding shortfall. TARC announced late last year that new fare collection system on the buses would be coming soon and the new systems are set to be in place sometime late this year, according to their website.
The new system will implement a smart card that can be loaded with funds to cover the rider’s fare. The smart card will allow passengers to tap their card on the reader to deduct the fare from their available funds. The card will also store transfer information on the card, eliminating the need for paper transfers and helping TARC “go green” while reducing printing costs. The transfer status will be activated upon fare payment and will be good for two hours. Once the transfer time has expired, the next tap will automatically deduct the fare price again.
One of the big advantages to the smart card will be that the fares (currently $1.75, $2.75 for express routes) will go back down to $1.50 per ride or $2.50 for express rides. Riders will still be able to buy monthly passes, which will be loaded directly on the card. Riders will also have the option to buy 24 hour passes for $3.50 (day passes were previously only available at two locations), and 7 day passes for $15. For a complete list of fare prices, visit the TARC website. If a rider qualifies for reduced fares, they will still receive the reduced fares, but the smart card will need to be picked up directly from TARC Headquarters so that eligibility can be verified. If you are currently a University of Louisville student or work for a company with a TARC rider agreement using with your photo ID, you will still be able to ride for free, but the logistics for that are still being worked out.
Since the TARC Smart Card can be used as cash for paying fares, the system also offers some protection for the card holder. Each card can be registered to a user and, in the event that a card is a lost, the rider will be able to call TARC and have the card canceled. The remaining funds on the card will then be transferred to a new card registered to the rider. Note that each rider will need their own card. A single card, even it’s loaded with $100, will not be able to purchase more than one fare at a time.