Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation

Advocating for integrated public transportation, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities since 1992.

Transit Policy

CART 2016 Annual Meeting Announcement

CART’s  2016 Annual Meeting will be held May 25th, 6:30 PM, at the Clifton Center.

CART has been advocating for Louisville’s transit development since 1992.  Our advocacy led to the TARC T-2 Study for Louisville’s first Light Rail Line in the 1990’s.  That study was shelved to fund the Bridges Project.

Even though the Bridges Project will consume most of Louisville’s transportation dollars for the next 40 years, there is much that can be done to improve transit, mobility, and air quality for our community.   To do that will require persistent and coordinated work with other citizen groups and government agencies.  While there are grant opportunities available, CART is in dire need of an infusion of new members and new energy.  The existing Board of Directors has dwindled to four.   Membership has also decreased.

We invite all those with an interest in a healthy, equitable community to consider bringing your energy and your ideas to this organization.  At our Annual meeting we will be reviewing the Move Louisville report and discussing opportunities to bring about the changes we need for a sustainable community.

CART’s mission is more important than ever, but without an influx of new board members and an increase in general membership, CART will close it’s doors. We will be electing new board members at this meeting.  Please consider becoming more involved.

Membership in CART is $15 per year, and can be purchase at the door at our May meeting or via Pay Pal through our Website –

We look forward to seeing you and working with you.


David Coyte, President

“Happy” 75th Birthday

Inter-urban Near Louisville 1907

Interurban rail car near Louisville KY, 1907.

When, at 11:20 PM on October 31st, 1939, Indiana Railroad Train #35 pulled out of the Louisville Interurban Terminal, this was the beginning of the end of through electric Interurban rail service between Louisville and Indianapolis – a service that began in 1908.

As the orange car with dark green roof emerged from the terminal, it turned east onto Jefferson Street, continued south on Third Street, east onto Prospect Alley, south on Brook Street, east on Madison Street, north on Wenzel Street and onto the approach to the Big Four Bridge. On this final trip, a large wreath hung around the big interurban headlight.

Up to the very last, Indiana Railroad was a high speed operation. On a 9.1 mile stretch in south central Indiana between Columbus and Azalia the regular schedule called for cars to cover this distance in 9 minutes for an average speed of 60.6 mph. Speeds over 70 mph were necessary to meet this schedule. Quick acceleration of these 1930’s era electric cars made this possible.

So, what killed the interurban? Among other things, Henry Ford and his Model T.


Indiana Railroad, “The Magic Interurban,” George K. Bradley, Bulletin #128, Central Electric Railfans Association. 1991

Indian Railroad System Timetable, April 30, 1939.

Interstate, “A History of Interstate Public Service Rail Operations,” Jerry Marlette. 1990

Trolley Sparks, “Indiana Railroad System,” Bulletin #91, Central Electric Railfans’ Association. 1950


Using Distance Profiles to Identify Peer Cities

Once you leave the Eastern Seaboard public transportation in the United States is a local affair. The type of service you find in a city depends on the interplay among several factors including total population, population density, geography of roads and terrain, demographic patterns, development patterns, local and state politics and values, and local agency funding structure.  In this post, I use a tool published by the US Census Bureau called Distance Profiles to analyze potential peer cities.  The Distance profile provides a cross section of Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) populations that allows us to visually identify cities with very similar population distributions, geographic size, and density distributions. Using this tool we can make an informed comparison of Louisville’s transit system and those of true peer cities.

Fig. 1a Portland vs Louisville Population Profile (click for larger image)

Fig. 1a Portland vs Louisville Population Profile. PEER CITY? – NOT! (click for larger image)

Portland DEN

Fig. 1b Portland vs Louisville Population Weighted Density (click for larger image)

Once we identify our peer cities we have to be careful. All of our peer cities’ transit systems are somewhat different and it doesn’t necessarily mean one city’s public transit system is more or less effective.  Measurements of “effectiveness” must be based on the public transit values that each local community chooses for itself. Cities always make tradeoffs between coverage and ridership within a fixed budget. A city that values coverage will design a network that tries to deliver public transit opportunities to every corner of the service area.  A city that values ridership will concentrate their resources on the high volume corridors to try and deliver maximize ridership. The former provides lots of access to service but with very low frequency.  The latter leaves many areas unserved but provides much more frequent service along selected corridors.  All cities try to balance these goals based on additional values including social service concerns, the desire to  influence development patterns, mitigation of pollution, and  congestion reduction, and fall somewhere along a continuum from maximum coverage to maximum ridership.    We can also look at a peer city’s budget and facilities which will tell us more about the community’s public transit values and perhaps operational efficiency.

We will address these ideas in a later post, but before we can do that, we need to identify our peer cities based on their Distance Profiles.  Then we can evaluate their transit systems and infer the community values illustrated by their transit system choices and decide what if any elements of that system we can emulate.

Population Profiles

The Distance Profile includes two metrics: population by distance from city hall and population weighted density by distance from city hall. The results for each MSA are plotted on line graphs where each point represents a circular band of land one mile wide with each successive band radiating outward from the city center.  The geometry of this metric results in each successive band having a greater area. The resulting graph has a peak at the band with the greatest population or density then falls off as the bands contain more and more rural areas. Take a look at Louisville’s graphs. Continue reading

Section of Legacy Rails Removed at 38th and Market

In an unfortunate example of the right hand not talking to the left, in the dark of night on June 9th, two six foot sections of double rail streetcar


Cut Streetcar Rail at 38th and Market

tracks were destroyed to make room for faux cobblestone crosswalks. You would think that city construction crews would have been briefed about what NOT to do when archaeological artifacts are encountered. It is not clear what the rules are about dealing with the tracks but indications are that city officials do care about these assets.

In an email exchange between John Owen, candidate for the 5th district Metro Council seat and public works official Dirk Gowan, Gowan said:

“I apologize for the confusion on the tracks, it was my responsibility to assure the tracks were destroyed, and assure you that the extension of the project will not destroy other sections of the track.”

A typo? I think he meant …”to assure the tracks were NOT destroyed.” Anyway, we hope so.


A Legacy streetcar called “Petunia” on a restored section of tracks in Dallas.

It is not beyond imagining that someday Metro Louisville will want to add streetcars to the urban landscape for all the right reasons. Dallas and other cities have been able to save millions in capital expense by reusing legacy tracks.

Therefore preservation of these valuable assets should be the rule. And the rule should be codified through the Landmarks Commission. In any case a professional development workshop for public works construction crews on proper treatment of archaeological assets is certainly in order.

Move Louisville Project Could Guide the Future of Louisville Transportation and Urban Character


The Move Louisville project began as the outcome of massive public input to Mayor Greg Fischer’s Vision Louisville project.  A top community priority based on the  number of public comments received by the city was for a better metro area transportation system.  The mayor’s office of Economic Development and  Innovation is the lead  department and Metro Government is investing $775,000 ($600,000 federal grant, $125,000 city matching funds, $25,000 from TARC) to develop a comprehensive transportation infrastructure plan including roads, public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure.  At this time there are over six hundred discrete projects on the candidate project map. The implementation timeline on the Vision Louisville website says <5 years to completion but considering the number and scope of potential projects,  implementation is likely to stretch out to 20 years with projects ranging from bicycle lanes to freeway relocations and mass transit. It’s not that any single project would take 20 years but there are so many and with a comprehensive city-wide scope, the requisite public battles over individual plans, and the competition for limited local, state and federal money progress won’t be quick. We will be guided by the Move Louisville plan for a long time. On the other hand, if the city’s intention is to only select projects that can be built in five years then most of the ambitious projects will not make the cut. We will know soon.

Continue reading

4 Hiroshimas Per Second