By GAIL CARR WILLIAMS and KIM MCMILLAN
If you are tired of sitting in traffic jams and worried about increasingly congested streets and highways, you need to know more about the new $6 billion transit plan for Middle Tennessee.
The nMotion plan, released last month, is the culmination of more than a year of work during which the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA) released more than 35 technical documents and studies and carefully considered almost 19,000 survey responses and comments. Of course, the nMotion plan is full of details; but we’d like to share just a few of the exciting elements that could be implemented.
Nashville MTA/RTA can get started on some aspects of this plan immediately because the improvements don’t require a lot of additional funding. In the short term, transit riders could see better fare-payment options, real-time information extended to RTA services and AccessRide, improved stations and more shelters, and more frequent service on existing routes for longer periods of time each day. It also calls for a unified brand for the regional system.
Over the long term, the plan calls for major investments in high-capacity services, such as light rail and bus rapid transit, on key congested corridors. These investments will require planning and coordination with the leadership of this region in the coming months. MTA/RTA will need to develop a plan for the phasing of these projects over the next 25 years.
For example, the nMotion plan calls for the development of four light-rail lines within Davidson County with connections to nearly 150 miles of express bus-on-shoulder, 100 miles of freeway bus rapid transit, and 25 new park-and-ride lots. These dedicated lanes for rail and commuter buses mean that by riding transit you’ll be bypassing cars sitting in rush-hour traffic and your trip will be more predictable. With more trips on each route, transit service will run at times and frequencies that better match more people’s work-related commuting needs.
Adopting the nMotion plan is the first step in building a meaningful and equitable transportation network to address anticipated growth in Nashville and Middle Tennessee over the next 25 years. This transportation plan identifies specific and strategic actions this region needs to start today to get ahead of the growing congestion dilemma. Even if you don’t see yourself riding transit anytime soon, people you rely on in your everyday life need improved transit service to live, work and play.
Public engagement and input are vital to the nMotion plan. We want to hear from you during the public comment period that ends on Sept. 20. You can review the plan and comment at nMotion2016.org, and we invite you to join us at a series of community meetings listed at nMotion2016.org/events.
The nMotion plan is the result of participation by many people from across Middle Tennessee, and we want to thank everyone whose time and support helped us to accomplish this first step. Now, more than ever, we need your commitment to ensure that this plan becomes a reality as we strive to improve the mobility of Nashvillians and Middle Tennesseans today and for generations to come.
Gail Carr Williams is chair of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Kim McMillan, mayor of Clarksville, Tenn., is chair of the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee.