TARC executive director announces retirement

J. Barry Barker

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced Thursday that Transit Authority of River City (TARC) Executive Director J. Barry Barker is retiring after nearly 25 years leading the city’s public transportation agency. His last day is Nov. 30.

TARC Assistant Executive Director Ferdinand L. Risco Jr., who joined TARC in February 2017, will begin serving as Interim Executive Director after Barker retires.

“I am so grateful to Barry Barker for all he has accomplished at TARC and in leadership roles with non-profit and professional organizations at the local, state and federal levels,” Mayor Fischer said. “In true Barry style, of course, he’s already said that he plans to continue helping our city through volunteer work, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as he transitions to that new role.”

“It’s been a great ride, and I know the TARC team, along with an outstanding Board of Directors, will do great things.  I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to have served TARC and our city,” Barker said. “After nearly 25 years with this great organization, I’m now looking forward to staying engaged in volunteer organizations, traveling and enjoying family and friends more.”

TARC Board Chair Cedric Merlin Powell said Barker’s “indelible imprint on Louisville’s transportation system has provided access, opportunity and enhanced quality of life to all citizens of Louisville Metro.”

“He is a national leader in public transportation and a true public servant, the rare public official whose heart is even bigger than his service,” Powell said. “I, and the Board, wish to express our sincere gratitude in recognition of all he has done for TARC and the community.”

Risco, a U.S. Army veteran with more than 20 years of experience relating to transportation with private, public and non-profit organizations, said, “This is an exciting time at TARC with improvements underway.  I’m honored to serve as Interim Executive Director and to work with Barry Barker and everyone on the TARC team.”

Before joining TARC, Risco was executive director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Association.

Early next year, TARC will launch a “tap and go” electronic fare payment system on all buses and a new mobility website with start-to-finish trip planning options linking TARC, ride sharing and biking.  The region’s first Bus Rapid Transit route will begin operating in late 2019 along Dixie Highway for faster service linking downtown and southwest Jefferson County.

And in May, TARC will host the American Public Transportation Association’s 2019 Bus and Paratransit Conference, which will bring 5,000 transit industry representatives to Louisville.

Under Barker, TARC was designated in 2006 as the nation’s Urban System of the Year by the Community Transportation Association of American.  The next year, Barker was recognized as the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association. In 2012, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies honored Barker with the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation.

Locally, Barker has served on more than a dozen non-profit agency boards, including in leadership positions, and in 2010 headed Metro United Way’s annual fundraising campaign.

TARC provides 12 million passenger trips a year, with 63 percent of riders traveling to and from work, and another 20 percent on school trips.

“TARC moves the workforce of today and tomorrow, and we’re critical for people to access opportunity and all life has to offer,” Barker said. “I have always been motivated by the belief that the quality of life in our communities is only as good as it is for the least advantaged members of our communities. Access to life’s opportunities is a must if communities and individuals are to thrive.  I’ve been fortunate to champion these beliefs at TARC and in the community.”

The Mayor will work with the TARC board on next steps.

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