Nashville transit advocate Tobi Maier says he likes what he sees in the city’s new 25-year transportation plan. But he has one major reservation: the part that frames it over 25 years.
“The timeline, especially when it comes to rail, is not ambitious at all,” Maier said. “And ultimately, rail will be put off so long, according to the current timeline, that we may never see it happening.”
Maier would like at least to see one highly-visible rail line as soon as possible. Officials say rail projects can take 10 years.
In the meantime, the first improvements by the Metropolitan Transit Authority will be more modest:
- increase the number of bus stops with overhead shelter
- create regional transit hubs and improve park-and-ride lots
- provide more real-time information on bus travel
- improve connections to Nashville International Airport
The MTA also plans to simplify bus routes and add a few, although transit Planning Director Felix Castrodad said it’s too soon to say which ones.
“I wouldn’t dare to say one that will happen first," he said. "But I think we’ll definitely look at what the travel patterns are.”
That means more study — even if there’s a clamor to take action now.
Perhaps the biggest near-term change could be extended hours for the buses.
“We heard this from every place that we went to: Basically, we don’t come often enough, sometimes hourly, sometimes more than that, especially in the middle of the day,” Castrodad said. “That’s kind of a hassle for many people.”
Among the other first steps will be making the fare payment system more high-tech, and streamlining how buses get in and out of downtown — there’s such a pinch there that buses average just 6 mph during the afternoon commute.
Clarification: The original version of this story associated Tobi Maier with Transit Now. He has no formal position with the organization, but has attended its meetings.