About a month ago, Nashville transit officials offered a peek at their preliminary regional transit scenarios.
One question I’ve been asked over the past month: Do you have better maps of the system officials are looking at?
This week, the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority unveiled a more detailed dive into their three scenarios.
Good news: Higher resolution maps of the transit proposal are available now available, including views of both the region and Davidson County.
Just as a quick reminder, the boldest plan includes all sorts of bells and whistles, like light-rail to streetcars to additional commuter rail service to and from Clarksville (but no subways and use of CSX lines). A less cost-intensive option would focus more on bus-focused transit investments, eschewing light-rail and streetcars for bus rapid-transit with dedicated lanes. And the last of the scenarios would roll out only modest improvements to existing transit service in the region, a move that MTA chief Steve Bland has said is merely a baseline expansion to Davidson County’s transit, where “the major thrust … is to make existing service more robust.” ( Here’s a look at scenario three).
Transit officials are jumpstarting a new round of public engagement to get input on a final proposal to put before the MTA board, expected in the next couple of months. ( You can offer up your thoughts on the scenarios here) Bland has said he expects an ultimate regional plan to incorporate elements from each of the three scenarios. One common thread among all the plans: more frequent service hours and calls to improve pedestrian connections to transit stops and stations.
Here’s a brief rundown on the scenarios, with links to more map details on MTA’s strategic planning website.
The big humdinger, calling for major improvements, runs at an more than an estimated $5.5 billion in capital costs over the next 25 years, when combining both local Davidson County and regional projects. Additionally, this full-fledged system would cost $318.3 million in annual operating costs. Based on a projected population of more than 3 million people in the region, officials project this regional system will costs $230 per capita.
This one would require “new, dedicated funding sources” for transit — a point officials spoke about in depth two weeks ago at our transit panel.
“This scenario includes the types of improvements that have been, or are currently being, implemented in other rapidly growing regions such as Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City — cities whose regional populations are greater than Nashville today, but which Nashville is expected to reach over the next 25 years,” MTA writes in the report.
MTA finds that “in terms of outcomes, [this scenario] would produce major increases in mass transit ridership,” especially on “a number of key, congested corridors.”
New investments called for in the plan include:
- Light rail on four corridors (Gallatin Pike, Murfreesboro Pike, Nolensville Pike and Charlotte Avenue)
- Bus rapid-transit on three corridors (West End Avenue, Dickerson Pike, 21st Avenue/Hillsboro Pike)
- Two new streetcars (West End, within the I-440 loop and between Germantown and downtown)
- Freeway bus rapid-transit on I-24 and I-65
- 3 new rapid bus routes (what today we might call, bus rapid-transit lite)
- Major improvements to service to Nashville International Airport
The second scenario, pegged at about $2.4 billion in capital costs, proposes moderate transit improvements.
MTA says this proposal would “improve service in a similar manner as other current peer cities with robust transit systems.”
The important point there: current peer cities. “Overall, scenario two would improve Middle Tennessee’s transit system to a much lesser extent than in cities that are already like what what Nashville and Middle Tennessee are growing to become,” MTA writes. In other words, this 25-year plan addresses more what Nashville might need right now, versus what it will need when it is the size of Denver in future decades.
The roster of projects calls for six bus rapid-transit projects within Davidson County and rapid bus service on interstates and freeways, among a roster of other expanded bus service. The notable piece of scenario two: It does not include the development of light-rail service. Additionally, it doesn’t call for commuter rail between Nashville and Clarksville.
For more, here’s MTA’s full report.