Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

We All Have a Stake in Mid TN's Future Transportation Plan

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By now, I'll bet you've heard some version of this statistic: Our region is expected to grow by more than one million new residents by 2040. What you may not know is the bulk of that population growth is coming to the nine counties surrounding Nashville - including Wilson County - and many of those newcomers are going to commute into Nashville every day for work. If they bring their cars with them, that spells trouble for our already crowded interstates and major roadways that feed into and out of Nashville.

To study and develop alternatives to sitting in gridlock, the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (Nashville MTA) and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee (RTA) are undertaking a yearlong, long-term planning effort called nMotion. So far, what we're hearing from people who live in counties surrounding Davidson is that they would consider leaving their cars at home if transit travel times are more competitive with drive times.

During our planning work, we're considering expanding popular services in the region, such as the Music City Star, weighing how best to attract more riders on our other services and asking for input on what new types of offerings Middle Tennesseans would like to see. Even if you don't see yourself riding transit in the near term, we want to hear your ideas for tackling our mobility challenges. Because if we make transit a more attractive alternative and increase ridership, it will ultimately improve your commute, even if you don't use it.

On Thursday, Oct. 22, we're holding a meeting from 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre at 110 West Main Street in Lebanon. We want your feedback on the Music City Star, and we want to hear what other service improvements you would like to see. Everything is on the table.

We also recognize that our success in finding transit strategies that work will require input from the entire region. That's why Nashville MTA/RTA is working in concert with our regional partners Cumberland Region Tomorrow and the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee to get the word out, and we're also coordinating with other entities in the region, such as the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. We're all in this together.

In addition to attending our meetings, we hope you will follow the progress of our plan and give us your feedback on our website, There, you can comment on our latest reports with possible solutions, such as bus rapid transit, commuter rail, light rail and more. And later this year, you can weigh in on our future transit scenarios that will be developed as potential paths forward for our region. Implementing a successful plan will be expensive, but it won't be nearly as costly for the region as doing nothing.

Steve Bland is the CEO of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee.

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