By JENNIFER HORTONThe Wilson Post
Ridership on the Music City Star has increased this month more than 25 percent and that has brought the addition on Monday of a third train car to the commuter rail service between Lebanon and Nashville.
Patricia Harris-Morehead, communications and marketing director for the Regional Transportation Authority, said the third car has been placed on the train that leaves Lebanon at 6:40 a.m. headed for Nashville and the train that leaves Nashville at 5:05 p.m. for Lebanon.
From Jan. 1-21, ridership has increased 25.6 percent from 676 passenger trips, or boardings, per day, to 849 passenger trips each day.
“There have been a couple of days where we’ve passed 900 passengers,” she said. “We were excited to be able to add this additional car. I’m hearing we’re just at about 900 passengers daily.”
Harris-Morehead added, “We are believing the increase is due to several reasons. Number one, we’ve been aggressively marketing the Music City Star. Number two, we have the Easy Ride Program.”
The program is called Easy Ride Swipe and Ride, and Harris-Morehead noted a member of RTA’s staff has been talking to employers in the area about the benefits of employees riding the train or the bus in Nashville.
Under the program, businesses, agencies, organizations, state and Metro Nashville governments can purchase tickets for the train at a discount and provide them to employees.
She also mentioned the increase in fuel prices seen lately as another reason for increased ridership on the Star.
“We’re making it more convenient to use public transportation,” Harris-Morehead said. She noted the Game-Day Express train trips to Tennessee Titans home games at LP Field in Nashville for fans who don’t want to drive. The RTA has also advertised in newspapers, on radio and through its E-news blasts which riders can sign up for at either the RTA website or Metropolitan Transportation Authority website.
There are other benefits to using public transportation services. For one thing, she said, it is better for the environment and helps decrease traffic congestion on the roadways.
Second, with fuel prices increasing, riders can save money by riding the train and not filling up the gas tanks on their vehicles once or twice a week.
Third, there are economic benefits to communities that have public transportation which makes it easier for people to get to work, to dinner, to stores and such.
And fourth, Harris-Morehead said, public transportation also provides a health benefit in that people may walk from the vehicles to the train station, walk from the train station to work or to a waiting bus to take them to their place of employment. Riders, she noted, “are getting some exercise as well.”
“More people are choosing public transportation for their way to get around,” said RTA Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Ballard. “We are confident this ridership trend will continue as more people realize the many wonderful benefits that transit offers to them and the environment.”
Editor Jennifer Horton may be contacted at email@example.com.