A group of community organizers is questioning whether Mayor Megan Barry’s proposed public transit plan could actually hurt communities more than it helps.
If a tax referendum is approved next year, the project would kick off with a light rail line on Gallatin Pike in East Nashville. But critics held a small march Tuesday to talk to residents and business owners along the proposed route.
Lauren Plummer walked down Gallatin Pike for three miles headed towards city hall, speaking to anyone who would listen about the project.
"It’s our taxes that are going to fund it. We are getting the word out that it shouldn’t displace any people or businesses in the area," Plummer told a local gas station owner. "Have you heard about it?"
Plummer is a member of Homes For All Nashville, a housing and tenants rights organization, and worries that the electric rail will attract big development, eventually pricing local residents out of the area.
“We tell the full story," Plummer said. "That it might displace people as it stands now without assurance that there’ll be community benefits for everyone in Nashville.”
Others are concerned that a new rail line will lead to spottier bus service. Tamika Jones is a local bus driver who admits she has concern about her job. She also thinks the plan misses the community’s actual needs, including 24-hour service and more bus routes off the main road.
“We definitely believe with the rail coming in, it’s going to affect the bus line," Jones said. "But we need more lines and buses that go inside the community.”
The Mayor’s Office says there are no plans to disrupt bus service, adding that more details on the transportation proposal will be announced in October, including "improving and expanding bus options with more frequency, longer hours, and more cross-town connections."
It's all part of the region's $6 billion nMotion transit plan, which intends to add rail along four major corridors — Gallatin, Charlotte, Nolensville, and Murfreesboro pikes — to connect the city.
Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that Mayor Megan Barry's transit plan would cost $6 billion. In fact, her plan is part of the larger nMotion regional transit plan.