Management & Operations

Louisville transit agency provides rides to at-risk youths, abused women

Posted on February 15, 2007 by Meaghan Kerins

These days, public transportation is about much more than moving people from point A to point B. Entrenched in our communities, transit systems enjoy a responsibility to the public they serve and provide a viable vehicle for community outreach. Louisville, Ky.-based Transit Authority of River City (TARC) is one agency stepping up to the plate, partnering with local shelters and nonprofits, offering those in crisis a ride to safety through programs like Safe Place.

National Safe Place is a network of youth shelters and partnering community agencies and businesses that serve as a resource for youth in crisis or at-risk. Local shelters utilize designated “safe places,” offering youth locations within their own neighborhood — including convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and fire stations – where they can access immediate help and safety. At any time, children can enter a participating safe place, ask for assistance and be connected with support and transportation to a local shelter.

The program began in Louisville through the local YMCA shelter for youth. Sandy Bowen, executive director of Safe Place, explained the program’s evolution: “There was some concern that kids did not always have a good way to get to the shelter if they had a crisis going on.”

Several years after the initial implementation, TARC and its president, Barry Barker, joined forces with the YMCA as its first mobile transit system. Today, Safe Place has a working relationship with APTA, and 43 of the 140 cities participating in the Safe Place program involve a local transit agency.

The program’s transit aspect works almost identically to the stationary safe places. A youth seeking Safe Place services can board the bus for free and request assistance. The bus driver would then radio dispatch to send a road supervisor who would intercept the bus and transport the youth to the shelter.

Bowen credits Barker, who has been personally involved in the Louisville community for years serving on various boards, with the program’s growth in the transit sector. “Barry and his staff served as consultants to other transit systems when they were making the decision to get involved with their local Safe Place programs,” Bowen said. “Essentially, they answer a lot of the initial questions and develop strategies for how these transit systems can successfully implement Safe Place and how they can operate [the program] within their transit systems.”

Bowen feels that local transit is a natural partner for Safe Place, and stressed its important role in the program, saying buses were secure and accessible places to go. “We made the choice to have mobile safe places because buses go to places where there are no fire stations or libraries or convenience stores, etc.,” said Bowen. “Buses, typically, are non-threatening places where youth are more likely to ask for help and many of the transit systems operate 24/7 or at least 12 hours a day, and we find that to be very helpful for our kids.”

As an offshoot of this program, TARC has developed and recently launched a new program called Safe Haven, which uses the Safe Place model to provide women who are trying to escape from an abusive situation transportation to the city’s Center for Women and Families.

Although it provides an invaluable service to the community, costs are negligible. Because the drivers do not provide counseling services, the training simply provides an opportunity for drivers to get to know the organization and ask questions. As far as cost, Barker claims the incremental cost for TARC is zero, since the youth transportation service has become an added responsibility of road supervisors already out on the road.

For more information about the National Safe Place program, visit the Website at, or contact Bowen for more details on partnership opportunities at (888) 290-7233 or via e-mail at [email protected].

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

NorthEast Charter joins IMG network

The company joins IMG’s Cyr Bus Lines in serving the state of Maine and surrounding areas.

TriMet's GM McFarlane to retire

He led the expansion of TriMet’s light rail system, which has become a national model for integrating land use and transportation planning, policy and development.

Nashville mayor unveils $5.2 billion transportation plan

It includes 26 miles of Nashville’s first-ever light rail system, four rapid bus routes, a dramatic increase in the service and frequency of the bus system, and a strategy of service and infrastructure improvements.

RATP Dev North America adopts one brand

Rebranding of McDonald Transit and RDMT simplifies client interactions by immediately connecting clients to the parent company in North America.

MV Transportation names IT exec to CEO post

Kevin Jones joins MV from DXC Technology, a publicly traded IT services company, where he served as sr. VP and GM of the Americas region.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close