When it comes to regional mass transit, Middle Tennessee will soon choose among a trio of options. They range widely — from essentially doing nothing new, to spending big on rapid buses, streetcars or trains.
Nowhere is this range as dramatic as in Cheatham County, where, at the moment, there’s not much transit at all.
But there is one bus stop, just off Interstate 24 in tiny Pleasant View.
It gives one chance for commuters to get on in the morning to go to Nashville and one evening return trip.
Mayor Perry Keenan said this route — which is the RTA’s 94X bus between Clarksville and Nashville — is really popular.
“They’re running out of spaces on the bus, so people are trying to get here as quickly as possible so they make sure they get one of the empty spots on the bus,” he said. “They try to line up, and it’s first-come, first-served.”
The Three Scenarios
Cheatham County usually plays a small role in regional talks, but it does appear in the nMotion plan that’s inching toward adoption. That proposal charts the future for the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Regional Transit Authority, which oversees 10 regional express bus routes.
It’s possible that Cheatham won’t get any additional transit — that’s one of the three scenarios being considered.
But the status quo scares local officials, because they expect huge population growth. The area already sees 82 percent of workers commute across county lines every workday, the largest share of any county in Tennessee.
A second option would create one new bus line, the 99X, between Nashville and Ashland City.
But it’s “Scenario 1” that could change everything.
So far, surveys show that the public prefers the train line.
“The commuter rail through Ashland City is coming out on top, as well as some possibilities for bus rapid transit along Interstate 24,” said Felix Castrodad, director of planning and grants for the MTA.
‘We Need More’
But the nMotion plans, and some potentially large price tags, haven’t been finalized.
Several local and state agencies have studied the so-called “Northwest Corridor,” with ridership and costs projects due this spring.
And even the most ambitious scenario doesn’t include service upgrades for Pegram in the southern end of the county or in Pleasant View.
“We need more,” said Keenan, Pleasant View’s mayor. “With the growth patterns they’re expecting in Nashville and the surrounding counties between now and 2025, our area is going to increase substantially.”