Help build more robust Middle TN transit system
Mobility is the hottest issue in Middle Tennessee these days.
What to do about transit and traffic has emerged as arguably the top issue in the Nashville mayor’s race. In June, the 2015 Power of 10 Regional Summit brought together more than 600 leaders from our 10-county region to discuss our transportation challenges and needs.
And there have been countless announcements of new developments in or relocations to our area, bringing more people — and more cars — into an increasingly congested regional center.
The population projections are sobering.
There will be more than 3 million residents in Middle Tennessee by 2040 — making our region larger than present-day Denver.
More than half of the state’s growth between now and 2040 is expected to occur in the 10-county area. While Davidson County is expected to remain the most populous in the region, growing to 1 million residents, Williamson and Rutherford counties are on track to leapfrog Chattanooga–Hamilton County in size by 2040, adding nearly 300,000 people each.
How will we all get around?
Transit can play an essential role, and we know we need a long-range plan that reflects the needs of each unique community in the region to do it right.
The success of the transportation system in the future will depend on the quality of the plan we create today. And the quality of the plan will depend on public input — that is, we need to hear from you!
The plan starts now
The Metro Transit Authority (Nashville MTA) and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA) boards are working together to create that long-range plan.
Recently, our agencies launched an aggressive community-driven, long-range strategic planning initiative called nMotion 2015 with the goal of engaging at least 10,000 people on the discussion of public transit.
Activities include community sessions, online surveys and presentations to neighborhood groups, civic organizations and businesses.
This initiative dovetails with NashvilleNext, the city’s far-reaching vision for Nashville that projects to the year 2040, as well as the long-range plans of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Ultimately, we will perform system and market assessments, identify opportunities, and put together a vision framework based on what we hear from you. In the spring of 2016, we will develop short-term, mid-term and long-term scenarios to address our future mobility needs.
The good news is that we start with a strong foundation.
Last year, passengers took nearly 11 million rides on MTA/RTA vehicles.
The Nashville MTA has continued to improve its services and now offers premium services such as BRT lite along three of the city’s major corridors.
Plans are under way to add a fourth next spring.
Since last fall, Metro high school students have been able to ride transit buses free, and soon there will be a new real-time transit app available.
For the convenience of riders in surrounding cities, the RTA offers 10 express bus routes to and from Clarksville, Dickson, Murfreesboro, Gallatin, Springfield, Franklin and Spring Hill, along with van pool services.
The Music City Star, the region’s only commuter train, shows year-to-year growth, and plans are under way for a seventh rail station, Hamilton Springs, in Lebanon.
Planning is also under way to look at enhancing services between Clarksville and Nashville, including the possibility of another commuter rail line.
Our transit systems need to provide more frequent services and prepare for our region’s future.
We need your help. To get involved, visit www.nMotion2015.com. You can take the latest survey, schedule your own “Transit Talk” with a member of the MTA/RTA staff, request the nMotion bus to come to the next big event in your neighborhood or read the reports about the strategic planning process.
Help us create a comprehensive plan that works for all Middle Tennesseans and prepares us for the growth that we know is coming.
Marian Ott is chairwoman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Kim McMillan, mayor of Clarksville, Tenn., is chairwoman of the Regional Transit Authority.