Drivers in Middle Tennessee may soon see buses passing them on the highway.
The state Senate on Wednesday voted 24-4 in favor of a bill that would create a rapid transit system along Tennessee’s interstates.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, would allow drivers operating buses owned by a publicly owned transit company to pass vehicles on the right while operating on the shoulder or right-of-way on any state or interstate highway.
The initiative is one being done in nearly a dozen other states, including North Carolina and Georgia. The basis of the bill is an attempt to alleviate congestion and create a fast-flowing, reasonably priced public transit system.
Felix Castrodad, Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority director of planning and grants, has expressed support for the measure.
Speaking on behalf of the bill, Yarbro pointed to the benefits that Minnesota has seen since beginning their rapid transit system in the early 1990s.
“That state has over 300 miles of territory where this sort of operation has been working,” he said, adding that there has only been one accident during that time.
Yarbro warned that even with the legislature’s passage of the bill, buses would not immediately be able to operate on the shoulder. First, he said, the state Department of Transportation would have to establish rules.
The bill is waiting to be placed on the House floor calendar.