Nashville transit recommendations draw hope and ire

The Tennessean
David Plazas

The 25-year, $6 billion-dollar proposal for a major transit upgrade in Nashville has drawn excitement and agitation alike from readers.

Comments on The Tennessean’s editorial last Sunday, “Nashville area wants big, bold traffic, so build it,” and questions from readers in a Facebook Live video I hosted on Monday show there is massive interest.

Some viewers and readers shared their hopes for a futuristic, faster and more efficient system that would alleviate traffic congestion with a heavy focus on some kind of rail system.

Others expressed concern over the price tag (who pays?) and whether Nashville should look beyond a mass transit system to a more innovative approach that uses existing ride-sharing technologies of Uber and Lyft, i.e., as well as the emerging technologies of self-driving vehicles.

The nMotion 2016 Transit Plan recommendations, which were released on Aug. 17, offer a strategy and tactics. They are not the end product. City leaders and the public still have to decide how and whether to pay for it.

Area residents consider transit one of their top concerns, per the NashvilleNext community planning process.

In addition, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Vital Signs reportshows a growing level of frustration over ever-increasing congestion in Middle Tennessee as well as a willingness to pay for a transit system even if that means another tax or fee.

Now that the nMotion recommendations are out and decisions will need to be made about funding, do Middle Tennesseans still feel the same way?

These are a sample of comments from the Facebook Live broadcast as well as from the editorial online:

“We need a mass transit system that eliminates the cars from downtown. I don’t care if it’s a high speed monorail system that runs over the interstate so we don’t have to buy any more land.” — Richard Kaleta

“I’m from Denver and travel to Nashville 3-4 times a year. The similarities in the need for a regional transit solution are striking. … I’m excited to see Nashville exploring options to get a much needed transit system in place.” — Marci Whitman

“Nashville … has an identity Crisis and it has to work its way through, i.e., it wants/needs a good public transit system but there are protests when one is presented. … Nashville must choose, sooner or later, what kind of city it is, or the influx of people coming from less affordable states such as California will become an exodus elsewhere. And I believe it begins with a good public transportation system.”— Ron Slimmin Hall

“Any proposal of this size needs to be put to a referendum vote rather than being ramrodded down voters’ throats and into their pocketbooks through whitewash and propaganda.” — Pete Nikolai

“Like so many mass transit proponents, you’re stuck in a 20th century mindset, trying to force a solution that is becoming less relevant every day, and has never paid its own way anywhere that it’s been tried … autonomous vehicles are going to be complete game-changers in public transit. Long before that taxpayer-subsidized $6B system that you’re supporting is finished, it will be laughably obsolete.” — George Burdell

The most important thing now for the public is to become engaged and vocal.

David Plazas is The Tennessean’s opinion engagement editor. Reach him at (615) 259-8063, by email at dplazas@tennessean.com or via Twitter at @davidplazas.

Upcoming transit-related events

Saturday, 11 a.m to 1 p.m.

The Nashville Transit Triathlon, led by Mayor Megan Barry, East Park, 600 Woodland St., East Nashville. Participants will ride the bus, ride a bike and walk with the mayor.

Next Wednesday, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

 “The Future of Transit” panel discussion at the Nashville Public Library main branch, 615 Church St., downtown Nashville. Presented by The Tennessean and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Moving Forward, Nashville Public Library, Nashville MTA, Middle Tennessee RTA and  nMotion 2016

Panelists: Steve Bland, MTA and RTA CEO; Michelle Lacewell Hutchins of the Nashville Area MPO; Luvenia Harrison of the chamber’s Moving Forward initiative; state Rep. John Ray Clemmons. Register for this free event at: http://transitforum.tennessean.com. The event will be broadcast live onTennessean.com

Comments

  1. Margaret Cornell says

    My husband & I lived in the Boston area before moving to Nashville (Bellevue). As senior citizens we totally support the sane efforts for light rail, fast bus lanes, etc. etc. We not only support but serve as ADVOCATES to taking the bus by using it ourselves and leading small groups in our church to “learn how to ride the bus”. We feel the bus services should be advertised more on TV AND radio. We hear daily traffic reports but no bus/Star news. Finally, we would like to see bus services extended out Rt 100 to the new shopping area near the new Y, Publix, Loveless Cafe, etc.

    Excuse my rambling! We plan to attend the hearing coming up at West End Middle School.