Get educated on Tennessee transit

By Blaine Strock via The Tennessean

Everyone knows that congestion is a problem on Middle Tennessee roads. These days, you can’t walk through a grocery store or attend a social gathering without hearing someone complain about traffic.

But the truth is, we don’t need to complain. We need to get smart about our options and become educated.

There are many different ways to get educated on transit. For instance, I enrolled in the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee’s Transit Citizen Leadership Academy last fall and gained a greater insight into the challenges and solutions that fully developed transit programs address.

During the six-week course, I learned about the challenges that Middle Tennessee faces in the future of transit and heard from people in cities around the country, such as Denver, that have faced and solved similar transit problems.

In essence, the transit problem at hand is a regional issue, and the most practical solution is a regional one. After all, one out of every two residents in Middle Tennessee uses roads that cross county lines to get to work every day.

To make a regional transit solution a reality, we must come up with a way to fund it, and there’s movement in the legislature to do just that. The governor’s IMPROVE Act, if passed, would enable every county in the mid-state region to utilize referendums to support a tax increase to pay for transit funding.

If every resident in Middle Tennessee pays a little more, we can get there, and education is the first step. Citizens need to know that they have a say in the future of transit funding.

There are many avenues for learning more and educating others on the transit solution. Are you able to devote one night a week for six weeks to learning about transit? Enroll in the Transit Citizen Leadership Academy as I did, or get involved with other transit organizations. Do you have six minutes? That’s enough time to call or email your legislator about referendums for a local funding option.

Surely you have six seconds; strike up a conversation with your friends and family about how a fully developed transit system can help solve their rush-hour commuting woes. Instead of complaining at the next party, seek out the opportunity to have a productive conversation on transit options.

Regional cooperation is how we’re going to help solve this problem, and education on this issue is the first step toward improvement.

Fixing transit issues on existing corridors isn’t going to be easy, but we have to start now. I hope you will join me in a forward-thinking conversation on transit so we can turn our options into a reality.

Blaine Strock is the executive vice president and Middle Tennessee market president for the Bank of Tennessee, and a graduate of the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee’s ninth Transit Citizen Leadership Academy.

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