Answering Public Demand, MTA Seeks Money For Later Bus Hours And More Frequency

Nashville Public Radio
Tony Gonzalez

Catching a bus in Nashville isn’t possible late at night. And knowing how long you’ll have to wait is tough, anytime, without a schedule in hand. But there’s huge demand to make the bus system simpler and more dependable. So on Monday, the city’s transit chief responded with a budget request to make that a reality.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) wants to help both early morning commuters and nighttime service workers at hotels or restaurants, whose shifts often last beyond midnight.

If approved, longer bus hours on a dozen major roads would begin before sunrise, at 4 a.m. and then go into the night until 1:30 a.m.

MTA CEO Steve Bland also wants buses to come so often that no one even needs a schedule anymore. That’s partly because a study found that the average trip was taking more than an hour.

“What’s that average travel time? It came out to about 82 minutes for a six-and-a-half mile trip, largely composed of that wait time,” he said.

The improvements, Bland says, could cut the travel time to 29 minutes and attract hundreds of new riders almost immediately, as the MTA has done in some parts of Nashville.

The city’s budget process has challenged leaders to come up with innovative ideas. MTA’s were more pricey than some — all told more than $12 million.

A chunk of that would be for a high-tech deal with Uber and Lyft.

A shared app was discussed as well as “combination” trips. For one fee, riders would transfer between the bus and a car. It would be faster than the bus alone, but about half the cost of a rideshare.

Listen and read more here.