We’ve reached a critical period in the yearlong, long-term planning effort called nMotion that is being led by the Nashville Metro Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (Nashville MTA/RTA). Since April, we’ve been out in the community gathering input from Middle Tennesseans about improving transit and developing a more robust system for the future. We have now entered the final phase of the project, and we need your input at upcoming public meetings.
From April to December 2015, more than 8,500 comments and surveys have been collected from area residents in a series of community meetings, events, “Transit Talks,” focus groups, and sessions with current riders and MTA/RTA employees to get their opinions about what improvements need to be made to our current transit system.
We began by asking about your top values, which you identified as convenience, dependability, frequency and safety; then, we incorporated your feedback into a series of four guiding principles for the process. Fundamentally, we want to connect people, make transit a competitive choice, simplify our current services, and build a financially sustainable system that improves the quality of life in our region.
Most recently, we’ve asked for your input in meetings and online about the types of transit strategies we could use to improve the system. As the discussion of these strategies has become more specific, public input has become even more essential. Your feedback on topics about premium services, such as bus rapid transit, light rail and commuter rail, better fare payment options, and improved service frequency has been very insightful.
Throughout the region, you’ve told us that, to increase the appeal of transit, we have to find ways to make it competitive with the time it takes you to get from point A to point B in your car.
We have also heard pedestrian and bicycle access to stations and stops needs improvement. Service has to be more frequent and reliable, and we need more connections outside of downtown Nashville. Developing more premium services also has been a hot topic, and some concepts remain polarizing, such as the idea of using dedicated lanes for transit on our streets and highways. Lots of great community conversations on transit have been taking place.
Now, it is time to weigh in again on the topic. We need to hear from you and others in the region — whether you plan to ride transit in the future or not. Tell us what you think of our three possible scenarios for the future. All three scenarios would improve the experience for current riders, and two of them will generate many new transit customers. Nevertheless, they come with a wide range of costs, timelines and community implications. Now is the time to make your voice heard about how you would improve our transit system for generations to come.
Please stay engaged in this process. If you have not already done so, get involved and visit our website at nmotion2016.org/decide and take the new survey. Tell us what you like and don’t like about each scenario as we compile our final recommendations. You and your neighbors also are encouraged to attend our next round of community conversations. Listed below is information for the Sumner County meeting.
Monday, April 25 — 6–7:30 p.m.
Sumner County Administration Building
355 North Belvedere Drive
Gallatin, TN 37066
In addition, we’re organizing Transit Talks in the community, and we plan to survey our current riders on the bus, train and transit stations. After we’ve heard from the entire community, we’ll release a long-term plan for the region later this summer.
Steve Bland is the CEO of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee.