New initiatives for Nashville’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) are rolling out. This week, both Vanderbilt University and Metro Planning announced programs to address the mounting stresses caused by so many people (some 84% of 74,000) driving alone: congestion, parking, and use of space.
There are several ideas at work here. First, there is no mandate to give up your car–just try it one day for one week. Second, since the referendum failed, we don’t have any dedicated funding for transit infrastructure or improvements. That means no new services, no augmented services, etc. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t use what we’ve got in the meantime.
Good question, Tracee. Quite a bit, actually.
Our Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) runs morning and afternoon workday buses from nearly all surrounding counties. RTA also operates the Music City Star commuter train from Lebanon in Wilson County for workday commuters. WeGo Public Transit operates Bus Rapid Transit Lite, frequent bus routes, regular bus routes all over Davidson County, and even has two free circulator buses (Music City Circuit) running downtown from the Gulch to TSU to the Farmer’s Market like clockwork. While all WeGo buses are ADA-compliant, WeGo also operates AccessRide, a paratransit service for individuals with disabilities unable to use regular fixed-route buses.
The Middle Tennessee region has a very healthy Vanpool system operated by TMA Group/Vanstar. It’s incredibly cost-effective and you get to ride to work and back in a sleek, black executive van while saving wear and tear on your own vehicle. Nashville is also the birthplace of Hytch, a carpool incentive program that pays you and your carpool cohorts per mile for riding together. By riding together, you can double, triple, even quadruple our existing road capacity!
Most recently, after careful consideration, Davidson County’s Metro Council allowed dockless scooters* (Bird and Lime) to operate with some specific provisions about data capture as well as sidewalk and operator safety, see more. There are B-cycle* bike shares every few blocks, too. Using bicycles or walking, you can access the region’s growing, and incredible, Greenway system to navigate around. As you can see, we have some fairly robust alternatives to driving alone around here. *The Transit Alliance advocates for safety first. Please wear a helmet.
All this is why Metro Planning Department’s TDM program, Nashville Connector, is ready to issue the Commuter Challenge. One week to try at least one new mode of transportation besides driving alone. October 22-28 is your week to take the bus, carpool, get on that scooter, etc. The message here is just to try. There is no expectation or request to give up driving alone for good. Rather, it is an opportunity to give something else a try and see if it works, or could work . . . sometimes.
TDM is not new, but it new to our area. It’s a way to help commuters and drivers manage all the modes of transit available to them. There will be a TDM forum here in Nashville in November hosted by the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT).
While the Nashville Connector Commuter Challenge is oriented toward those who live and/or work in Davidson County, the Transit Alliance is extending this challenge to the whole region. There is no pre-requisite that you take a different mode to work. Carpool with friends for your trips to town–don’t forget to Hytch! Walk between stores/stops, if possible. Take your city’s public transit to lunch, brunch, dinner, or shopping.
We highly recommend downloading the Transit App to help. It works on Apple and Android platforms and incorporates all modes (walk, bike, Lyft/Uber, bus, train) in trip planning.
In the quest to help alleviate the intensifying congestion crush and the inevitable downtown parking pilfer, give yourself permission to go on a transportation adventure–and take a friend!