What do you need to know about Nashville MTA/RTA’s nMotion planning process? See below for a list of frequently asked questions, and comment below to tell us if there is anything else you want to know.
- Which projects and routes have the highest priority?
- Nashville and Middle Tennessee are experiencing growth as never before, and no decisions have been made about which project or route will have the highest priority. Many of the routes in the scenarios will require further study to determine the feasibility of the various options proposed. MTA will coordinate closely with other agencies like TDOT and the Nashville Area MPO as well as with local jurisdictions in the region for implementation opportunities. Be sure to check out the State of the MTA System report for more details.
- Which surrounding counties have the highest priority?
- While the entire Middle Tennessee region is growing, some areas are growing more quickly than others. Recommendations for major routes connecting to counties with high growth, for example, will be different from recommendations for counties growing less quickly. Be sure to check out the State of the RTA System report for more details.
- Do we really need to invest in a regional mass transit system? What about emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles?
- We’re hearing more and more about emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles and the potential impact they could have on mobility in Middle Tennessee. The nMotion process has identified the need for better technology to make service easier to use, and has proposed partnerships with private companies, such as Lyft and Uber, to expand service. While some suggest that autonomous vehicles could be the answer to our mobility needs, it is important to remember that not everyone is able to access this option. Like an investment portfolio, a regional transportation portfolio should be diverse. While it will be important to fully explore the possibilities that autonomous vehicles offer, it is important to keep in mind the needs of all Middle Tennesseans, and the importance of a diverse mobility mix.
- When will we start building premium services?
- Deciding where and when to build premium services like streetcars and commuter and light rail lines will depend on public input and recommendations from transportation engineers that examine current congestion, population density, and regional growth patterns and projections. These are long-range projects, but the time to begin planning them is now.
- What is going to happen in my neighborhood, and when?
- While nMotion is a regionwide, public discussion about regional transit needs, we cannot yet predict where specific transit stops will be in each neighborhood, or which modes will serve specific neighborhoods. However, we aim to address accessibility for every neighborhood in Nashville, which means improving pedestrian and bicycle access, and implementing first- and last-mile services.
- How much will a Comprehensive Regional Transit System cost?
- The Comprehensive Regional Transit System scenario No. 1 is estimated to cost $5.4 billion to build in 2015 dollars. It is the boldest transit improvement option and includes premium services like BRT, light rail and commuter rail. Thus, funding for this option will require a significant investment from local, regional, state and federal sources.
- Why can’t we use the CSX rail lines, or force CSX to let us use their infrastructure, as in other cities?
- One of the most important elements in the development of new commuter rail services is the availability of the right of way and track required to operate the services. Along lines where freight use is light, for example, along the Nashville and Eastern line used by the Music City Star, freight railroads are often willing to share track rights as an additional source of revenue, or sell them entirely. However, in other cases, and especially along lines where freight use is heavy, freight railroads are either reluctant or unwilling to share their tracks due the limitations it would place on freight operations. The CSX tracks in Middle Tennessee are some of the busiest freight rail lines in the country. CSX is currently not willing to share its Nashville-area tracks with commuter rail services. The alternative of developing new rail rights of way, while to date not examined, would be difficult and costly. Because it cannot reasonably be assumed at this time that CSX lines would become available for commuter rail use, none of the scenarios include the development of commuter rail on CSX lines. However, this is not to suggest that the region should not further pursue the concept. Input received as part of the nMotion process suggests that there are a number of public policy objectives beyond the scope of this effort that would benefit from the relocation of significant rail freight traffic and facilities away from Nashville’s downtown core. To learn more, check out our paper on Commuter Rail.
- Why can’t we build other rail lines?
- It is expensive, time-consuming and difficult to acquire land, and the current CSX rights of way could not accommodate additional tracks. However, the Comprehensive Regional Transit System scenario includes options for expanding rail lines to Clarksville and expanding the current Music City Star service. To learn more, check out our paper on Commuter Rail.
- How much money is the state willing to contribute?
- How much money the state is willing to contribute to regional transit projects in Middle Tennessee depends on many factors and statewide priorities.
- How much money is the federal government willing to contribute?
- After developing a regional plan, local officials will request funding for specific projects in future federal budgets where appropriate.
- How much money will Davidson County be responsible for?
- Currently, 5 percent of Metro Nashville’s operating budget is dedicated toward MTA. Any requests to increase that budget will need to be approved by the mayor and the Metro Council. And the creation of new revenue sources dedicated to transit will likely require a public referendum.
- How will surrounding counties contribute to regional transit, considering many of their residents commute into Nashville every day for work?
- Transit will affect different counties and parts of the region differently. This will play a role in determining how specific projects are funded. But it is anticipated that the entire region will participate in funding a regional transit system.
- Why can’t we just build more lanes, overpasses and underpasses?
- Research suggests that, if you build more lanes, people adjust their driving habits and fill the new lanes, overpasses or underpasses quickly. Not to mention, building new highway lanes and infrastructure can be more expensive and disruptive than some transit alternatives.
- What kinds of technological upgrades are you considering or planning for?
- Some improvements are already underway, like improved signal timing, transit signal priority and the Music City Transit Tracker mobile app. Technology will continue to play a role in developing more efficient access and payment methods, and MTA/RTA will continue to monitor developments in technology. To learn more, check out our paper on Fare Payment and Collection Technologies.
- How will you partner with private enterprises like Uber and Lyft?
- Services like Uber and Lyft will play a role in the first and last miles of certain trips, especially those involving the Music City Star and potential Freeway BRT routes. We are in conversations with them and other companies about how to transport riders to and from transit stops. To learn more, check out our paper on First- and Last-Mile Connections.
- What kinds of public/private partnerships can help us build bigger transit projects?
- We hope to work with private companies that see an opportunity to partner on transit projects in a mutually beneficial way.