Nashville bus riders have been demonstrating how much they depend on reliable service during a series of feedback sessions in the past few weeks. WeGo, the city transit agency, has heard questions and complaints as it prepares to cut service and raise fares.
The agency is trying to minimize the damage of eliminating routes — in large part by providing alternatives to keep most riders within walking distance of a bus stop.
But after John Buffam looked at the new East Nashville map at a meeting Wednesday, he said it won’t be close enough.
“The nearest stop is a 15-minute walk, which precludes grocery shopping or crummy weather,” he said. “So, no, I see it not being a part of my life anymore.”
Since 2005, Buffam has been accustomed to the bus running right past his house. While he’s feeling a direct loss of service, he also worries about the wider city.
“The economy will begin to suffer in the congestion, and people will scratch their heads and wonder why,” he said.
Social media criticism of WeGo has been robust as well.
Now, elderly people in Chippington Towers can catch the 26 at intersection of Berkley Drive & Gallatin. Looks like that stop is being lost as 26 & 56 routes are combined. Metro didn't even require car wash to put a sidewalk where car wash replaced Col. Tom Parker House.
— Tom Wilemon (@TomWilemon) May 24, 2019
I've been impressed with how @WeGoTransit is handling a tough budget season—not wasting a crisis. Straightening and consolidating routes, balancing bus stops, and more! With transparent, effective public materials to boot, based on clearly stated design principles. :clap::clap::clap: pic.twitter.com/li5My2ZQov
— Zak Accuardi (@zaccuardi) June 11, 2019
What’s clear at the listening sessions is how much the city’s bus riders care.
For example, Caralyn Love has trouble with walking and with her vision. She uses the appointment-based AccessRide, which sends out small buses to do trips from door-to-door.
“To have your drivers come meet you at a door with an umbrella on a rainy day, and help you fasten your seatbelt when you are getting seated … that’s wonderful,” Love said.
AccessRide won’t be cut in the pending changes, but the cost will go up, along with all of the other fares.
WeGo says it’s considering all public feedback before its board finalizes changes at a meeting June 27. Changes are scheduled to take effect in August.