Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”), working with the Louisville Metro Police Department (“LMPD”) and other law enforcement and public safety partners, has developed a new plan for taxi cab and bus drop-off and pick-up of Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Day patrons designed to create a more convenient and efficient environment for fans traveling to-and-from the track via those means of transportation on its biggest days.
Attendance at the 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) was 165,307, which broke a record set one year earlier, and Kentucky Oaks (GI) attendance was 112,552, the second-largest crowd in the history of that event. Churchill Downs has estimated that 18,000 patrons traveled to-and-from the track via taxi on Derby and Oaks days, while the two-day transportation number for shuttle buses was estimated at 15,000.
The revised Kentucky Derby and Oaks transportation plan includes:
- Redesign and expansion of the area outside Gates 1 and 17 (off Central Avenue) to create more dedicated space for fans on foot and double the number of buses available to accommodate drop-off or pick-up of fans at any time on Derby and Oaks Days;
- Creation of a Taxi Depot outside of Gate 3 at 4th Street and Central Avenue that will nearly triple the number of taxi cabs that can be accommodated at any time to serve arriving or departing Oaks and Derby patrons;
- A widening of the pedestrian area along Central Avenue through which patrons will move to-and-from the Taxi Depot and other parking near Churchill Downs.
“Our record-setting Kentucky Derby crowds of the past two years and Kentucky Oaks attendance that annually soars past 100,000 are a testament to the enduring allure of these great events, but those growing numbers prompted us to re-think transportation logistics in an effort to make the experience more efficient and positive for our fans,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. “The Louisville Metro Police Department, an essential partner in ensuring the safety of Derby and Oaks fans, along with other public safety partners, bus partner Miller Transportation and local taxi companies, contributed to the redesign of the Derby and Oaks transportation model. We are confident these changes will improve the customer experience for those who rely on buses and cabs on these very special days.”
The reworking of the pedestrian area outside of Gates 1 and 17 provides a larger footprint to allow patrons a simpler entry and exit from Churchill Downs on its biggest days. The relocation of the taxi cab line, previously located immediately outside of Gate 1, to the new 4th and Central location provides an expanded footprint for the unloading and loading of buses that transport patrons on Derby and Oaks Days to-and-from parking lots at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (“KFEC”) and shuttle locations in downtown Louisville.
As many as 10 Miller Transportation buses will be able to load or unload at any time. Previously, a maximum of six buses were positioned in the area at any one time. The expanded area creates more queuing space and allows for additional lines for patrons waiting to board buses bound for their individual destinations. Most of the Miller Transportation buses are equipped with front and rear exits and will meet ADA regulations for accessibility.
“Fans have many options to get to-and-from Churchill Downs on Oaks and Derby Days, but travel by shuttle buses and taxis should be faster and more efficient because of the expansion and improvement of our facilities to accommodate both modes of transportation,” said Ryan Jordan, general manager of Churchill Downs. “Our close look at the totals of taxi and bus traffic during last year’s Derby, shuttle buses seem to be underutilized and have potential growth in 2013 given the expanded layout of the boarding area and the fleet of comfortable Miller Transportation buses that will be travelling to-and-from Churchill Downs throughout both days.”
Round-trip shuttle prices for both Kentucky Oaks and Derby Days vary by location. A round-trip shuttle ticket from downtown Louisville-to-Churchill Downs costs $20 each day, and the price is $15 each day from both Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. The price of parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Oaks and Derby Days is $15 per day and parking in the KFEC lots will cost $8 daily.
The new Taxi Depot, located adjacent to the Wagner’s Pharmacy building at 4th and Central, has space for the positioning of as many as 30 cabs for pick-up and drop-off of patrons at peak times on Oaks and Derby Days. The new taxi location is an approximate four-to-five minute walk for patrons exiting from Gates 1 and 17, but only seconds from the infield entrance at Gate 3. The previous taxi stop near Gate 1 could handle a maximum of 10-to-12 cabs at peak times, and track officials estimate about half of the patrons that travel by taxi to-and-from Churchill Downs on those days are infield patrons.
Special ADA-accessible vans will be available to transport patrons who would have issues with the walk from Gates 1 and 17 to the new Taxi Depot.
Churchill Downs will boost the numbers of its guest service team assigned for duty at-or-near those admission gates to assist patrons who have questions about the new bus and taxi cab locations.
To ease the flow of foot traffic outside the track, the pedestrian walkway along Central Avenue will be expanded on Oaks and Derby Days to include one lane of that street, a move that will reduce eastbound traffic to one lane from 4th to 9th Streets. Fences will be erected following the racing program on Thursday, May 2 and the additional walking space will be available for fans arriving at Churchill Downs for the 8 a.m. (all times Eastern) opening of admission gates on both Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Days.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2013 and its 2013 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 27-June 30. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.